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Percat and Smollen set qualifying pace in Surfers ParadisePorsche Carrera Cup Australia: Round 7, Qualifying, Friday

Young speedster Nick Percat has continued his 2013 qualifying dominance in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia season finale on the Gold Coast, while Shane Smollen posted the best Elite Class qualifying lap time.

Percat posted his quickest lap time late in the qualifying session, taking his fifth TAG Heuer Pole Position Award of the seven-round 2013 season.

Three-tenths of a second separated Percat and second-quickest driver Steven Richards, qualifying ahead of points leader Craig Baird, Michael Patrizi, Bathurst round winner Warren Luff and Shae Davies.

Percat’s qualifying pace was a surprise to the South Australian considering his lack of experience at the Gold Coast circuit.

“I was surprised by my pace to be honest because I only did about four flying laps in practice and I’ve never been here in a larger race car before,” said Percat.

“Along with Bathurst, this track has to be one of the best in these cars; the two relatively big chicanes are great fun in the Porsche.

“I’ve really enjoyed qualifying sessions lately. I’ve found pace in qualifying all year and it’s great to cap off the season with another pole.”

Smollen’s impressive qualifying pace will see him start seventh on the grid for Saturday’s Race 1, placed ahead of Damien Flack, Paul Kelly, Duvashen Padayachee and current Elite Class leader Max Twigg in 11th.

Strong Friday pace has given Smollen confidence heading into tomorrow’s race, where the Sydneysider believes he has the best chance so far this season to race among some of the Professional Class drivers.

“I’ve very happy with today’s qualifying result; there are some great drivers behind me on the timesheets. It was definitely mission accomplished for today,” said Smollen.

“I just want to finish off the year well this weekend; we’ve had a few ups and downs this season. This is not a particularly easy track to pass on so I’ll concentrate on my starts and getting the car well off the line, settle into the race and hopefully tag on the back of some of the Professional Class drivers. This would definitely be my best opportunity of the year to race with the Professional Class drivers, but it won’t be easy.”

Stephen Grove qualified in 12th position from Tony Bates, Marc Cini, James Bergmuller, Michael Loccisano, Renee Gracie and Tony Walls in 18th.