Audi and Ferrari on front row for Bathurst
Phoenix Racing managed to score an excellent result in qualifying for the Bathurst 12 Hours in unusual conditions. The six racers had to lap the challenging circuit in Australia fast but not too fast as those who stay below a specified minimum time at Mount Panorama in qualifying have to compete in the race with ballast. Heavy traffic on the circuit and two kangaroos that crossed the track in the first qualifying session made the task even more difficult.
|Polesitter Mies (center) with his running mates, Jons (left) and O'Young (right)|
Kangaroo meets kangaroo: The first encounter of the black number "1" Audi R8 LMS sporting a kangaroo design with a real pouched mammal occurred right at the beginning of the first qualifying session. Christopher Mies (D) was on his warm-up lap when two of the Australian marsupials were hobbling across the track in front of him. Unfazed, the 22-year-old professional racer managed to set a lap time of 2m 09.1254s on lap three of an unusual qualifying session: The best time set by each of the three drivers of a vehicle is aggregated for the starting grid. The other special feature of this format: Those who require less than 2m 08s per lap have to run with 50 kilograms of ballast in the race. In addition, this best time is cancelled.
|Polesitting Phoenix Racing Audi of Mies, Jons and O'Young|
Christer Jons (D), who as Mies’ teammate is running at Bathurst for the first time, immediately achieved a time of 2m 10.3129s despite heavy traffic on the track. Darryl O’Young from Hong Kong, who won last year’s race together with Christopher Mies, completed the qualifying session for car number "1" with a time of 2m 09.2213s. The international driver squad thus secured the pole position. The team donated the prize money of 5,000 Australian dollars for the best time in qualifying to a charity. The sum will go to the Inwood family from Bathurst who will be burdened by exceptional costs due to an impending organ transplant.
Maranello Motorsport’s #17 Il Bello Rosso Ferrari 458 will start tomorrow’s Bathurst 12 Hour from the front row after securing P2.
|The Maranello Ferrari 458 will start in P2|
The team confident with preparations, the drivers keen to take the 458 GT3 to the head of the grid, and it would be Simonsen to come through with the goods, setting the fastest time in the opening session with a 2:08.2244. Team mates Farnbacher and Bowe placed times to secure the session’s fastest three times would fall within the Maranello Motorsport team.
The second Audi R8 LMS with the Australian driver trio completed the team’s success. Mark Eddy/Craig Lowndes/Warren Luff, who started from position one at Bathurst last year, drove their white number "2" R8 LMS to grid position five. The fastest lap of the weekend in an Audi was achieved by Warren Luff. He lapped the 6.213-kilometer roller-coaster circuit in 2m 08.9396s. Craig Lowndes achieved a time of 2m 10.0394s. Team United Autosports with its drivers Alain Li/Mark Patterson/Frank Yu will start into the race in another Audi R8 LMS from position seven.
In the afternoon’s second qualifying session in hotter outside temperatures no further lap time improvements were possible. At the same time, Team Phoenix Racing which is competing in Australia for the first time saved valuable sets of tires for the race. The Bathurst 12 Hours will start on Sunday at 6:15, local time (Saturday night 20:15 Central European time). All fans can watch the race on www.audi.tv by live streaming provided by the organizer.
Quotes after qualifying
Christer Jons (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1)
"Grid position one is very nice. My team-mates did a really good job. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the tires’ top performance because I was driving in traffic. I set my personal best time when the tires had started degrading. Still, the aggregate of our times was enough for the best result."
Christopher Mies (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1)
"On my first run at Bathurst in a year I saw the kangaroos in qualifying of all times. But I wasn’t on a flying lap yet so nothing happened. When I started, the tire pressure was a bit too low. We then improved that for Darryl (O’Young) and Christer (Jons) once more. Still, I was driving a pretty decent time on the track that at first was relatively clear. Afterwards, Christer and Darryl did very good laps as well. I believe we’ve got an extremely well prepared car for the race."
Darryl O’Young (Audi Top Service R8 LMS #1)
"Fortunately, I caught a free lap and I also achieved a nice time in the process. I really like the qualifying format with the aggregation of the times set by all three drivers. That’s true team sport. And each one of us showed a good performance today."
Allan Simonsen “We came here last November and had a first drive, which was a good opportunity to learn, and has proven to be very useful with just three short sessions here. We’ve got Dominik who’s not been here, so it’s important to get everyone laps, and everyone is doing extremely well, have gelled and so far we’re very pleased with how it’s been going.”
|The Maranello Ferrari 458 on the picturesque Bathurst circuit|
“It’s definitely a good opportunity to start from the front row, you’re the pace setter along with P1 so a good situation for us.
“At the end of the day in a 12 hour race it doesn’t mean that much where you start, but it is nice to be at the front to get away from potential carnage, remembering it’s a long race, we need to get started, settle into a rhythm and get going.”
Peter Edwards “I’m feeling really comfortable, happy with my time, and glad we’re all able to keep it up there. It’s a great team, we’re great mates, and the quality of drivers, well they all speak for themselves.”
Dominik Farnbacher “I’m very excited to be here, it’s a unique track, I love every inch of it and it’s giving me goosebumps when I drive around it. I enjoy driving with these teammates, they’re great names.
“I think tomorrow we’ll play a big role in top three or four - getting through the race without incident might see a good result. We’re well prepared, Maranello Motorsport are a professional race team, they know what they’re doing, and with my teammates I have no fear in completing the race.”
John Bowe “The car’s really good. Last year Pete (Edwards) and I drove a (Ferrari) 430, so this is like a different country. It’s nice to have a nice car and good team mates. Tomorrow’s a big race and you never know what will happen in the 12 hours - these sort of races become quite strategic and rely on a certain degree of luck so you need to be having a lucky day as well as a smart day.”
1 Jons/Mies/O’Young (Audi R8 LMS) 6m 28.65s
2 Simonsen/Farnbacher/Bowe (Ferrari) 6m 29.61s
3 Sun/Baird/Griffin (Ferrari) 6m 29.63s
4 Lago/Russell/Park/Edwards (Lamborghini) 6m 29.73s
5 Eddy/Lowndes/Luff (Audi R8 LMS) 6m 32.25s
6 Slade/Bleekemolen/Hackett/Curtis (Mercedes) 6m 39.68s
7 Li/Patterson/Yu (Audi) 6m 45.41s
8 Tinkler/Johnson/Richards (Porsche) 6m 54.20s
9 O’Donnell/Niall/McLennon (Porsche) 7m 10.39s
10 Wilson/Breslin/Mehta/Breslin (Mercedes) 7m 11.39s