At the wheel of the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari Toni Vilander took pole for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, opening round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge. Pole in the GT4 category went to #48 M-Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4.
The first ever Pirelli Top-10 shootout at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour has been emotionally claimed by Ferrari team Maranello Motorsport – delivering them the prestigious Allan Simonsen pole award. Finnish ace Toni Vilander powered the team’s #88 Ferrari 488 GT3 to the top spot to claim the pole award named after the team’s late driver, who tragically died in 2013.
Vilander was the last car to run in the shootout and his 2m02.861 lap was enough to edge out Chaz Mostert’s BMW M6 GT3 by just 0.194 seconds in the closing stages of a session held in 35-degree temperatures. Seven different brands filled the top-10 positions in the shootout, however it will be a pair of BMW entries chasing the bright red Maranello Ferrari into turn one tomorrow morning at 5:45am local time (UTC +11, live on www.
Shock omissions from the Pirelli Top-10 shootout included the #17 Bentley Continental GT3, both JAMEC-PEM Audi’s and notably the 2015 winning Nissan GTR. The factory Nissan entry was damaged in a crash in this morning’s practice session when Katsumasa Chiyo clipped the wall entering the dipper. Though the team was able to repair the car, they narrowly missed the shootout and will start the race 12th tomorrow – just in front of the sister #24 car that was repaired overnight.
Defending Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champion and 2016 12-hour winner Shane van Gisbergen could only manage to drag his STM AMG GT3 to 18th position, while defending Bathurst 1000 winner Will Davison’s plans hang on a late-night repair job for his McLaren team after co-driver Ben Barnicoat crashed exiting the chase earlier today. The team is freighting in parts from Queensland overnight in an effort to have the car back on track for the start tomorrow.
After withdrawing from the 2016 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Melbourne based M-Motorsport are back with a vengeance debuting a new car and topping the GT4 sheets in today’s qualifying session. Glen Wood set the fastest in-class lap of 2m17.713s in the #48 M-Motorsport KTM X-Bow GT4.
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour commences at 5:45am local time on Sunday morning (UTC +11) and will be shown via a free live stream around the world on www.
Toni Vilander (#88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari): “I must admit, some strong emotions went through when I saw the trophy. I saw Allan for the first time in 1994 when I raced in Denmark and at the race where he had the issue, with the big accident and I talked with him on the grid so it’s not an easy moment.”
“The conditions were quite difficult out there, really hot track temperatures. We were seeking the right tyre pressure to get the right setting for the car for this, but also for the race, since this is a key moment for tomorrow afternoon as well. I’m really happy, happy to be with these two legends here so, we are looking strong for tomorrow.”
ARTICLE/PHOTO: Intercontinental GT Challenge