24 Hours – First Qualifying Session Report
Heavy overnight rain
(roads were awash on nearby Mount Rankin) stopped at about 05.00,
so with the high temperatures, there was no risk of a wet track
when the first (of three) qualifying sessions began at 10.00.
And the fireworks
started almost straight away. Peter Brock was charging through the
slower traffic, taking every opportunity, and more to nip past anything
in his way.
As Philipp Peter
explained, "you have to go for it on every lap. I don't want
to end up two seconds slower than my team-mates," (indicating
David Brabham and Andrea Montermini having a discussion about which
gear to use where). He wasn't - he was just a tenth and a bit off
The 427 Monaro
ended up fastest (2:13.286), over two and a half seconds faster
than the 05 Brock etc. car, suggesting one scenario in which the
‘provisional pole’ car is the hare, leaving Brock and
friends as possible winners – if something happens to the
yellow Monaro. Three of the 427 drivers set the three quickest times,
Garth Tander fastest overall.
The five litre
BMW V8 was third fastest (John Bowe), ahead of an impressive looking
54 Porsche, the Falken Tyres example – which Peter Fitzgerald
was briefly driving in close company with Brock. Very close. The
Paul Stokell Lamborghini was fifth, last runner under 2:20 –
with the Engelhorn / Peter / Brabham / Montermini Ferrari sixth
(Andrea M. fastest in this one).
got a car that’s a little bit loose,” said Philipp Peter.
“It’s oversteering on the fast corners. But we’re
working on it. We must do as many laps as we can to learn the circuit.”
He compared Bathurst to parts of Laguna Seca, Macau and even Monte
Carlo (the closeness of the walls).
“Compared to the
Le Mans car, we’re losing at least a second and a half per
lap without the sequential gearbox, which sits lower in that car
anyway, improving the handling too. The Monaro is really fast on
the straight, but we can turn in quicker, after braking later.”
threw his hands up in delight after doing “just a systems
check” in the GNM Porsche, which ended up ninth fastest with
a 2:23.345. Mike Newton then went out and was thrilled to be three
seconds a lap faster than the Brazilian. That doesn’t happen
too often! “This could well be my favourite circuit in the
world – like Oulton Park on steroids.”
Adam Sharpe in the Morgan
was just as happy after his first laps of the track: “The
best circuit I’ve ever driven on.” He passed on the
information that the V8 was terrific going uphill, while coming
back down again, it wasn’t quite reaching the rev. limiter
before the entrance to Caltex Chase.
The Morgan wound
up 14th quickest, third in Class, beaten only by the VIP Petfoods
Cup Porsche and the Alzens' similar car. Richard Thorne’s
Aero 8 is used to chasing this model.
“Bang where we
want to be,” said TM David Dowse. Commenting on the team’s
Dunlops, he said that “we won’t mind if it rains.”
If it stays dry for the race, the Aero 8 has some soft British Dunlops
for the night, harder Australian ones for the daylight hours.
what happened to the Mosler – and Martin Short? Shorty’s
tale of woe with a very sore eye could fill a book, so we’ll
tell that one elsewhere. Suffice to say after two and a half days
of misery (and worry) he was starting to feel better today, just
in time to get into the MT900R at 10.00.
Then the problems
started. “We’ve improved the car so much since last
year that it’s now far too stiff for a circuit like this.
We wondered about the stiff sidewalls on the Yokohamas, but that
wasn’t the issue at all. We’ve got to get stuck in now
and re-valve the shocks.”
It was a bad
session for the blue and silver Cirtek Porsche, Tim Harvey standling
idly by as a clutch niggle was rectified. "They found the problem
when they started the car this morning: it was fine yesterday. Never
mind, if it saves an hour on the car..."
One very noticeable feature
of this morning’s session was the number of young schoolchildren
in the paddock. They were having a brilliant time, one of their
teachers explaining that “there are at least ten schools here.
The circuit invited us to bring the children, and we’re here
until about two o’clock.”
young – just as James Weaver has been saying for decades!
This is racing
Australian style – and it’s fantastic. But two hours
after the first session, it's pouring with rain up on the Mountain.