Bathurst 12 Hour

Maranello Motorsport take Bathurst pole in memory of Allan Simonsen

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Maranello Motorsport has claimed the first pole position shoot-out honours at the Bathurst 12 Hours in an emotionally charged result they dedicated to former team regular Allan Simonsen.

Claiming the crown named after the flying Dane, the Ferrari squad took top spot for the first round of the International GT Chalenge – which starts this evening – in the new format which sees cars go out one after the other to set a flying lap.

At the start of the ten car session, it was the Tekno Autosport McLaren 650S of Alvaro Parente who was sent out first – after finishing tenth in the qualifying run before the shoot-out. Parente’s 2:03.978 included a few minor off-track moments meaning there was scope for that time to be beaten.

And beaten it was, Ashley Walsh in the Miedecke Stone Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage knocked in three green sectors to climb to the top spot one tenth faster than the McLaren. They would finish fourth overall after all the times came in – not bad at all considering the Aston is an all-AM entry

Team manager George Miedecke said: “That was a neat little lap wasn’t it! He is really good at pushing it across the top and he used every single inch.”

After them it was the turn of Earl Bamber in the Walkinshaw GT3 Porsche 911 who logged a 2:04.067 to slot in behind Stone and Parente, but he was immediately pushed down to fourth as Maxime Soulet’s Bentley Continental GT3 went to second with a 2:03.968.

However, the joy of the shootout meant the order was changing all the time and one fast lap would see a huge shake-up in the order and that was next done by Marco Wittmann who took half-a-second off the fastest time so far as he logged a 2:03.249 in the BMW Team SRM BMW M6 GT3.

“That was really good. The clouds have just covered the sun a little bit so I think these last couple of runs from the guys are going to be a bit tight. He was commtited and had a big crack there, and had a big second sector,” team mate Mark Winterbottom said after Wittmann’s performance.

They wouldn’t enjoy top spot for long though as Chaz Mostert in the MARC Cars Australia BMW M6 GT3 – an all-AM entry – knocked two tenths of Wittmann’s time and moved up to pole position.

But, and you may be guessing a theme here, there was just one car left to go and that was Toni Villander in the Maranello Ferrari 488. On just his first flying lap the Finn went and demolished the previous fastest time as he went and clocked a 2:02.861, the only man to dip below the 2:03s.

Team mate Craig Lowndes said: “That was prety intense, it’s a hot day and looking at the times we thought the track might have gone off but Toni did a great job. He knows the car so well and Jamie and I are trying to support him as well as we can.

“These guys are obviously very emotional about it, you can see by their reaction. The first session went well, the second was tight, and Toni pulled something out at the end – we’ve done stage one, now we have to do stage two.”

The Bathurst 12 Hours starts just before 7pm this evening.

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