The on-track sessions for the 2015 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour began with a 60-minute practice session on the famous Mount Panorama Circuit in New South Wales.
With an entry list stronger than ever headed by 28 GT3 cars representing a range of manufacturers split across Pro-Am and Am classes it was David Russell who paced the opening hour of running in the lone Lamborghini in the field. Russell, who was part of the team which had its Mountain halted early last year after contact with a kangaroo lapped the 3.9 mile circuit in 2:05.923.
It should be remarked that in 2014 the same team won the opening practice, though on that occasion the Roger Lago headed squad competed as JBS Swift, rather than under the JBS Australia banner of this season. One change however, is in the driver line-up with Steve Owen completing the team’s quad beside Lago and Russell.
Defending champions Maranello Motorsport were second fastest, their Ferrari 458 GT3 less than half a second slower that the Lambo in the hands of Mika Salo. However, the team’s car ended the session with heavy damage as Tony D’Alberto crashes the car to bring out a red flag that would end the session less that ten minutes early. Ben Collins completes the team’s trio of drivers.
They were not the only team to suffer damage in the first season with the Craft Bamboo Racing team also looking at unwanted work early in the weekend after an accident with Jean-Marc Merlin at the wheel of the #99 Vantage GT3.
The NISMO Athlete Global Team (Florian Strauss, Katsumasa Chiyo and Wolfgang Reip) were third fastest, just over a second off the ultimate pace in lead the Am part of the GT3 contingent. The similarly Am class T F M – Ferrari Motorsport NZ team were fourth overall with the Pro-Am Erebus Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 completing the overall top five, 1.5 seconds slower than Russell.
The best of the Bentley’s the Continental GT3 making its Bathurst debut, was that of customer team Flying B Motorsport in 13th overall.
The Pelorus/Wall Racing team were fastest in the all Porsche Class B, the Dunut King sponsored Lotus Exige was the best of Class C, the Bruce Lyton BMW team the best of Class D with their 1 Series and the ##93 MARC Cars Australia Focus V8 leading the non-production invitation entries of Class I.