***Chaz Mostert became the first two-time winner of the Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy, courtesy of his lap time of 2:02.493 to win an interesting qualifying duel with Kelvin van der Linde. The pole position margin of 0.086 seconds between the two was the narrowest in Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour history.
***Marked Audi’s first pole at the Bathurst 12 Hours in seven years, or six editions. Until Saturday night, Laurens Vanthoor’s time of 2:02.552 in a Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra was the most recent Allan Simonsen award for the German marque.
***Regaining pole from Vanthoor ended a long run of different GT3 manufacturers topping Bathurst qualifying. Six brands (Audi, McLaren, Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche) achieved pole position between 2015 and 2020.
***Audi is now the most successful manufacturer in Bathurst qualifying, with four pole positions scored.
***Mostert paid tribute to Simonsen, whose name was added to the pole accolade at the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hours following his death following an accident at the previous year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. “Allan was amazing here in GT3,” Mostert said. “He was always very nice in the pits and a great competitor. We should really cheer for this award because it’s so special.”
***Kelvin van der Linde suggested that the 15-minute emergency session format used for Top 10 qualifying benefited the Audi teams: “I think the Audi normally has problems with the heat from the front tyres, and the Merc would have been better in a single session. return shooting. So we benefit from that, but we’ll see if it’s a completely different story in tomorrow’s race.”
***Jules Gounon, who qualified third in the top Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, felt the qualifying format change was a good move. “While I loved the lap format, today and this year it was too difficult on cold tires,” he said. “We said before qualifying that it doesn’t make sense to risk a car with cold tires for one lap. So I think it was the right decision from the race director.”
*** Audi’s stranglehold on the prep sessions extended into qualifying, although Shane van Gisbergen’s effort during the first 15 minutes of the Top 10 session prevented the R8s from leading all 10 on-track opportunities.
***Mostert acknowledges that the Audis have met “perfect conditions” so far and it might not be that easy for them in the race. “Every time in free practice when it was cold, the speed was there,” he said. “But we struggle a bit when it’s a bit warmer; who knows what the weather might be like tomorrow. Every time I come here there is a God of Bathurst who has chosen a winner – we just have to go and play history tomorrow.”
***The Melbourne Performance Center fired up its No. 47 Audi in the garage around lunchtime on Saturday afternoon, after building the replacement car all morning. The Supabarn Am class car managed to complete a few laps in qualifying but was not classified as only one driver took the wheel.
***That Audi and the Team BRM example, as well as the Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, are expected to start from the back of the grid after failing to complete the two preliminary qualifying sessions due to their respective setbacks in the build. A spokesperson for the event told Sportscar365 that teams in this situation have the option of starting from the back or from the pit lane.
***The No. 91 Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG collided with a kangaroo during practice Friday night, although this was unrelated to Saturday’s engine change. Maro Engel was able to move on after the ‘skippy’ passed him early on the Conrod Straight. “It chipped the roof and the A-pillar, and we lost a side mirror,” said team principal Darryl O’Young, who suggested the mostly frontal contact prevented the car from hitting the wall. The fate of the kangaroo is unknown.
***Triple Eight Race Engineering tested at Queensland Raceway to prepare for its Bathurst 12 hour programme, according to Bronze driver Prince Jefri Ibrahim. “There are a lot more things we needed to prepare for in the car compared to our road races,” he told Sportscar365.
***Ibrahim said he intends to focus on racing in Australia and Asia this year. When asked if he plans to venture to Europe, he said, “Not this year, to be honest. But I hope that in the future he can. For now, we are only going to focus on Australia and Asia. It’s good to see that everything is starting to open up again. We have a great year ahead of us and more to come in the future.”
*** The Triple Eight team, including drivers Ibrahim and Shane van Gisbergen, heads straight to Malaysia on Monday for the opening of the AWS powered Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia in Sepang. It is set to mark the first GTWC Asia race since September 2019.
***As part of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia initiative at the No. 222 Cup class entry, for a donation of $50 AED, spectators and anyone in the paddock can sign the car they drive Craig Lowndes, Geoff Emery, Alex Davison, and Scott Taylor.
***Lowndes is driving something other than an FIA GT3 car at the Bathurst 12 Hours for the first time since 1994. He drove the first three editions of GT3 in Audis, before winning with the Ferrari Maranello Motorsport team in 2014 and 2017. The last three 12 Hours saw Lowndes at the helm of the McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche machines.
*** The seven-time Supercars champion’s last appearance at the event outside of GT3 was behind the wheel of a Nissan Pulsar, in which he won class B with Phil and John Morriss. He did not participate in the race for 16 editions before returning in 2011 with GT3.
***Gounon noted that he had an interesting experience driving Mount Panorama this year, considering he is now in a left-hand drive car, as opposed to the right-hand drive Bentley Continental GT3. The Frenchman joined Mercedes-AMG at the beginning of 2021.
***As well as being the season-opening Pirelli-powered Intercontinental GT Challenge, the Bathurst 12 Hours also kicks off the two-round Motorsport Australia Endurance Championship for some of the national teams. That competition concludes at the Bathurst International in November.
***Grove Racing replaced some of the parts on its Porsche 911 GT3 R after qualifying, following Stephen Grove’s crash at the end of Practice 6. The team’s owner and driver told Sportscar365 a helicopter was dispatched on Saturday afternoon to bring the necessary spare parts. to Bathurst from Wollongong, south of Sydney.
***Stephen and Brenton Grove are set to represent Australia at the FIA Motorsport Games in Marseille later this year. The pair took a bronze medal at the Pro-Am event when it was last held in Vallelunga in 2019.
***Grove have assembled an in-house team to run their Bathurst entry this time around, after relying on technical support from Herberth Motorsport for their first GT3 entry to the race in 2020. The team is a mix of staff from the projects of the team. . “It’s a combination of our GT program and our Supercars team,” Grove said. “It’s very good; a good team of guys.”
***The starting drivers in the first three rows of the grid will be Chaz Mostert (#65 Audi), Kelvin van der Linde (#74 Audi), Luca Stolz (#75 Mercedes-AMG), Markus Winkelhock (No. 777 Audi), Broc Feeney (No. 888 Mercedes-AMG), and Dean Fiore (No. 9 Audi).
***Live coverage of the 12 Hours of Liqui-Moly Bathurst will be available on the GT World YouTube channel, IGTC Facebook page and the event website for audiences outside of Australia and New Zealand. Fox Sports 506, Kayo Sports and Seven provide live, ad-free television coverage in local markets.
***The start of the race is set for 5:15 am Fog could play a big part in the early stages of the race, with Mount Panorama shrouded in a thick blanket on Saturday morning.