Kiwi driver Shane Van Gisbergen has topped the time sheets for tomorrow’s Bathurst 12-Hour, and is the Allan Simonsen Pole Award-winner for 2016.
With a blistering 2m01.286s lap of the Mount Panorama circuit, Van Gisbergen and his team’s #59 McLaren 650S GT3 proved that the GT3 class is knocking on the door of a sub-two minute lap at 'The Mountain'.
Van Gisbergen’s time is the first sub-2m02s qualifying lap time at Mount Panorama, and positions two and three on the grid were also decided by sub-2m02s laps.
"The car has been amazing all weekend - we've mainly been doing race set-ups on high fuel so it's been pretty good,” Van Gisbergen said.
“With qualifying we just put it all on the table and did what we could. It was pretty awesome to see that [lap time] come up on the dash, I was pretty pumped about that. We're not really excelling over the top but the car is good in every sector."
Van Gisbergen was more than a second faster than last year’s Allan Simonsen Pole award winner, Belgian Laurens Vanthoor, who managed a time of 2m02:5521s in an Audi R8 LMS Ultra for Phoenix Racing.
Driving duties for the #59 McLaren will be shared by Van Gisbergen, Jonathan Webb and Portuguese driver Alvaro Parente.
McLaren has had a positive start to its 2016 12-Hour campaign, with 650Ss also qualifying third, fifth and sixth.
Next-best of the McLarens was the #11 Walls/Luff/Campbell/Slade (time set by Warren Luff) car, while the two front-running McLarens will be split at the start line tomorrow by the number #75 Audi R8-LMS of McLaughlin/Rast/Tander (time set by Rene Rast).
Nissan (pictured, above) will defend its 2015 crown from 13th on the grid. Driver Rick Kelly said the team was looking to qualify closer to the front, but the team said it is “upbeat” about the GT-R Nismo GT3’s race set-up.
Pole in Class B (‘Porsche’ class), and 22nd overall, was secured by the Grove Racing #4 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, driven by Scott McLaughlin.
Fastest in invitational Class I was the Augustine/Schoots/Lillie #65 Daytona Coupe (25th overall). The Daytona was clocked at 306.5km/h down Conrod Straight.
The 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour gets underway at 05:45 Sunday (AEDT).