Bathurst 24 qualifying report

Holden's heroes, the Aussie team that won last year's Bathurst 24-Hour in a 7.0 litre Monaro, took up today where they left off and claimed pole position for tomorrow's second mountain marathon. The number 427 Monaro, driven by...

Holden's heroes, the Aussie team that won last year's Bathurst 24-Hour in a 7.0 litre Monaro, took up today where they left off and claimed pole position for tomorrow's second mountain marathon.

The number 427 Monaro, driven by Garth Tander, set a lap time of 2 minutes 13.28 seconds this morning in the first of three qualifying sessions and was not bettered in the field of 45 GT and touring cars.

Heavy rain in the second session this afternoon ensured no one went faster and tonight's final session, which finished at 9.50 pm, also did not produce a better time.

The two-car Monaro team of Garry Rogers Motorsport also claimed second spot, with Greg Murphy fastest of the drivers in the car carrying Peter Brock's number 05.

John Bowe was best of the rest, his time of 2:17.68 in a BMW M3 GTR evidence of the Monaros' threatening form.

Satisfied with their morning performance, the Monaros sat out the second session and did only the minimum compulsory laps tonight.

But the cool, dry night conditions allowed the fastest of 35 internationals, Martin Short, to leap his Mosler MT900R from 10 th in the order to fourth on the grid.

It was an impressive effort from the Englishman, who spent last night in Bathurst hospital being treated for an eye infection.

Luckily, there were no sightings on track of the Mount Panorama kangaroos, which wildlife authorities warned could be in evidence at dusk today.

Nevertheless, around half the cars in the field have been fitted with sonic repeller devices and three static electronic repellers have been placed around the track.

Tomorrow's rolling start.will be taken at 2 pm, after Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson announces "Drivers, start your engines" to send the field on a journey expected to cover up to 3500 kilometres.

With last year's win to their credit, Tander, Steven Richards, Cameron McConville and Nathan Pretty will start favourites for the race, presented by Formula Green and Eagle Boys Pizza.

Pretty said: "The first session went really well. We were basically working to a bit of a plan.

"I got in and scrubbed a set of tyres on full tanks and then let the other guys have a drive, because they haven't done a lot of laps since last year.

"I don't think there is a lot of pressure on us, we are just doing our own thing. Now the red car is here (Brock's 05), there is probably more attention on what they are doing.

"We are just going about our business and trying to sneak up on it and take

another win."

While the 427 Monaro looks strong, much of the focus will be on the 05 sister car, in which Brock hopes to take his 10 th Bathurst endurance win 34 years after he first tackled Mount Panorama -- in a Monaro.

Brock and Murphy will be joined by two more of Holden's young stars, Jason Bright and Todd Kelly.

Australian teams claimed seven of the the top 10 in qualifying. After the Monaros, the lap times were close enough to already promise an exciting race.

Porsche veteran Peter Fitzgerald secured fifth spot in a GT3 Cup shared with Paul Morris, John Teulan and Scott Shearman.

In sixth came Nations Cup champion Paul Stokell in a Lamborghini Diablo GTR, around 1.5 seconds faster than the fancied Austrian-owned Ferrari of David Brabham, Andrea Montermini, Philipp Peter and Klaus Engelhorn.

Porsches filled the remaining top 10 spots, with the Alzen brothers from Germany in eighth, Tony Quinn's VIP team in ninth and Peter Floyd's car in 10 th.

The other high-profile British entry, the works-backed Morgan Aero 8, came in 15 th, while the fastest touring car was the BMW 320i which includes ex-Formula 1 ace Alex Yoong, from Malaysia, among its drivers.

Tomorrow's start will be part of seven hours' live television coverage by the Seven Network. Seven will also broadcast regular updates, an hour-long special at 12.30 am and thr final two hours.

Tickets to the Bathurst 24-Hour are on sale from $35 at the gate. <pre> QUALIFYING RESULTS

Outright 1. Pretty/Tander/McConville/Richards (Holden Monaro) 2:13.28 2. Brock/Murphy/Bright/Kelly (Monaro) 2:15.97 3. Bowe/Crompton/Crick/Algadri (BMW M3 GTR) 2:17.68 4. Short/Pearce/Lamb/Spurle (Mosler MT900R) 2:18.10 5. Morris/Teulan/Shearman/Fitzgerald (Porsche GT3 RS) 2:19.33 6. Stokell/Simonsen/Youlden/Hackett (Lamborghini GTR) 2:19.56 7. Brabham/Engelhorn/Montermini/Peter (Ferrari 360GT) 2:21.12 8. J. Alzen/U.Alzen/Klasen/Bartels (Porsche GT3 Supercup) 2:21.70 9. T. Quinn/K.Quinn/Marshgall/Denyer (Porsche GT3 Cup) 2:22.89 10. Floyd/I. Donaldson/Halliday/A.Donaldson (Porsche GT3 RS) 2:23.23

Class A -- Pretty/Tander/McConville/Richards

Class B -- Quinn/Quinn/Marshall/Denyer

Class C -- no entry

Class D -- Boylan/Morgan/Hansen/Bates (BMW M3) 2:33.91

Class E -- Loadsman/Russell/W. Luff/I. Luff (Holden Commodore SS) 2:45.75

Class F -- Gurr/Searle/Yoong/Full (BMW 320i) 2:25.84

-www.bathurst24hr.com

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Series Road racing
Drivers David Brabham , Alex Yoong , Garth Tander , Andrea Montermini , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Martin Short , Nathan Pretty , Cameron McConville , Scott Shearman , Paul Morris , John Bowe , Todd Kelly , Garry Rogers , Peter Brock , Tony Quinn , Peter Floyd , Peter Fitzgerald , John Teulan , Paul Stokell , Philipp Peter , John Anderson
Teams Garry Rogers Motorsport