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Bathurst 24 Hours – Second Qualifying Session Report
Australian Weather

Very odd: with the dry morning session out of the way, the heavens then opened at the top of the Mountain, and didn’t down in the pits straight / paddock area. A river was seen flowing down the track, through the Dipper.

Then the sun came out, the track dried and the V8 Brutes and the other PROCAR categories got on with their practising and racing.

Then the rain came down – almost as the late afternoon session began. Some cars did a lap on slicks, then came in for wets and did a lap – before the session was stopped as the rain became torrential, over the whole of the circuit.

Which left an unusual listing while the racers waited for a couple of damaged cars to be hauled back: Keith Ahlers was fastest overall, in the Morgan! How about that? His 3:45.439 shows how wet the track was though – very wet.

In a bit of a recap, the Cirtek Porsche of Tim Harvey and partners had had its clutch fixed, so no. 24 would go out for the first time in anger once the track opened again, the GNM Porsche had had a ‘fresh’ engine installed during the afternoon, the Freisinger unit used at the Spa 1000 Km, while Liz Halliday wanted to be more aggressive than her two laps in the morning session had allowed, in the Kawasaki Porsche.

When the track went green again, up stepped a couple of racers who have never been afraid to be aggressive – although their styles were actually very different.

Tim Harvey – “We just need to get everyone in the car and get their qualifying laps in” – looked very quick, and was very quick. “I love these Porsches, and this one is confidence inspiring. The trouble was we had a misfire coming out of the last corner, and the engine just went flat throughout the rev range.”

Up stepped the next charger, and whereas Harvey had looked controlled, Uwe Alzen in the B Class Porsche looked anything but. He was twitching the 911 every which way, and the smile on his face when he got out said it all.

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That was a 2:37, against Harvey’s 2:48 in the GT3-RS (delayed out of the last corner).

Meanwhile, the Holden Monaros stayed resolutely in their garage.

A little drizzle prevented the track from drying, but continued use by most of the cars saw a drier line appearing, and Philipp Peter responded by going fastest in the BE Ferrari, with a 2:35.

Luke Searle was having Alzen-type fun in the fastest car in Class F, the 301 BMW having been six seconds faster than any class rival this morning – and now nine seconds faster as this difficult second session drew to a conclusion.

Ian Donaldson was having fun in the Kawasaki Porsche, setting 2:38s, “Not bad for an old rally driver,” while in the remaining minutes, several things happened as the track became less and less damp:
- the Monaros still didn’t go out, the Garry Rogers team apparently so confident in their wet set-up that they chose not to go out.
- Martin Short went out in the Mosler, to check the car out after Heather Spurle had a slight contact with a Subaru – and despite being under the weather, Short set a 2:35.8, fourth fastest, and fastest non-Australian.
- David Brabham set a 2:24 in the closing moments, over two seconds quicker than anyone else.
- Paul Stokell wound up the Nations Cup Lamborghini to go second quickest, John Bowe going third fastest in the 5 litre BMW.
- Michael Bartels went slightly quicker than team-mate Alzen, but nothing like as spectacularly.

With the weather likely to be uncertain for the 24 Hours, the performance of the cars mentioned above could be significant – very significant.

Two European Porsches were in trouble: Rob Schirle’s men were changing the plugs as they still sought the cause of the misfire in no. 24’s flat six, while GNM was on its second engine change of the day. The intended race unit dropped a valve, despite only having run for six hours at Spa and a few minutes here, so the spare was heading back into the nether regions of the white, red and blue Porsche.

The V8 Brutes are about to start their second race of the day – with a reverse grid. On a very damp track. In the gloom.

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PS. Keith Ahlers was absolutely bubbling over at the performance of the Morgan in the wet. "The Australian Dunlop wets are every bit as good as the British ones, and when the track was at its wettest, the stopping distance and rear end grip were staggering."

David Lord was slightly put out by David Brabham's antics in the BE Ferrari this evening. It was Brabs who went quickest overall of course, and lap after lap he placed the 360 very, very close to the wall, at the first right hander after Skyline. "His mirror was over the wall," said a surprised David Lord. "The trouble was, I was leaning on it. The first time he did it, the mirror nearly caught my arm."

Now that is close...

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