McLaren driver Shane Van Gisbergen rewrote the history books on Mount Panorama, by claiming the pole for the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour in a record-breaking 2’01.286, at the wheel of his #59 Tekno Autosports McLaren. René Rast put the #75 MPC Audi alongside him on the front row.
The qualifying session for the 2016 Bathurst 12 Hour, the first round of the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge, was always going to be one for the record books. During the free practice sessions, the best GT drivers in the world had already shown that last year’s pole time would probably be beaten, and it did not take long for this to happen.
In the first part of qualifying, Shane Van Gisbergen already became the first man to lap the Mount Panorama circuit in 2’01.591, almost a full second quicker than last year’s pole time. In the knowledge that there would be a twenty-minute second session for the Class A cars afterwards, most other GT3 teams focused on getting the set-up right, so Van Gisbergen’s time was safe for a while.
Once Q2 got underway, the almost two dozen GT3 cars stormed out of the pitlane… but not Shane Van Gisbergen. The New Zealand driver took his time to prepare his final attempt, and when René Rast in the #75 MPC Audi started his quick lap, ‘Gizzy’ was right behind him. Rast became the second driver to lap in the 2’01 bracket, some three tenths slower than the provisional pole time, but Van Gisbergen squashed all hopes the competition might have had by improving to 2’01.286. The Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy was his.
Other McLaren drivers did well too, with Warren Luff taking pole in the Am class at the wheel of the #11 Objective Racing McLaren, the car with which Bronze driver Tony Walls can score points for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Am title. Luff was third overall, and with the #60 Tekno Autosports McLaren sharing the third row of the grid alongside the #37 Keltic Racing McLaren there are four 650S GT3 in the top six, sharing the front of the grid with the two MPC Audi’s.
The two Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 are both on the fourth row, with last year’s polesitter Laurens Vanthoor in the #2 Phoenix Racing Audi claiming the ninth spot on the grid. The three Mercedes cars entered in the opening race of the Intercontinental GT Challenge will start from 11th (#63 Erebus SLS), 18th (#36 Erebus SLS) and 20th (#33 Mishumotors SLS) positions respectively.
Shane Van Gisbergen (#59 Tekno Autosports McLaren): « It means a lot to me to win the Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy. Allan was great guy, and I am sure he would have been a contender for the fastest time here. My pole lap was amazing, I have never been so fast around here. But much more important is that the car feels great for the race. »
René Rast (#75 Melbourne Performance Center Audi): « Shane did an awesome lap, I have to admit. But I am happy with my lap as well. I don’t think there was much more we could do. Now it’s time to relax, get some sleep and prepare the race. It will be a tough one. »
The 2016 edition of the Bathurst 12 Hour will start on Sunday morning at 5.45 am local time (UTC+11). Live streaming is available on the official website of the Blancpain GT Series.
Adelheid Terryn – PR Manager,