Times tumbles as GT World Challenge Australia hits the Mountain
The stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia presented by AWS, with the Triple Eight Race Engineering combination of Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Peter Hackett topping the combined practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s event at Mount Panorama.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 pair bettered the Porsche GT3-R of Brenton Grove in the afternoon session by a slender 0.2843sec margin, with lap times several seconds quicker in the later run.
Third on the timesheets in the ProAm classification was Liam Talbot and Fraser Ross in the combination’s new Audi R8 LMS Evo, followed by series leader Yasser Shahin in another Audi, with the top-four covered by less than a second.
Mike Sheargold and Garth Walden completed a solid first hit out in the AM category, topping the times in their Mercedes-AMG GT3 from the Audi R8 LMS Evo of brothers Theo and James Koundouris.
It was tight at the top in the GT Trophy Series, with Brett Hobson’s Nissan Nismo GT3 edging out Brad Schumacher’s Audi R8 LMS Ultra by only 0.1167sec.
While the afternoon’s 40-minute long session was free from red flags, the same could not be said for the morning run, which was punctuated by a pair of stoppages.
With the track still slick from an oil down in a previous session, former Australian Driver’s Champion Paul Stokell was the first to come unstuck in his Audi R8 LMS EVO near Reid Park.
Swift repair work by the Melbourne Performance Centre crew saw the car return to the track in the hands of Gary Higgon for the afternoon session.
In a separate incident, Mike Bailey found the wall in his Bentley GT3 in a similar area, with the car expected to be swapped for an Aston Martin for the remainder of the weekend.
Tomorrow’s on-track action for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia presented by AWS features a split qualifying format, with 20 minutes dedicated for each driver.
The sessions are scheduled to commence at 11:10am AEDT, with all of the action set to be broadcast on both Fox Sports and Kayo.