Baird secures Bathurst pole positionBaird and Smollen impress in Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia qualifying at Bathurst
Craig Baird has claimed pole position for Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia’s opening race at Bathurst, while Shane Smollen topped the Elite Class for the first time in 2011.
Baird posted the pole position time on his final lap of the session, eclipsing the previous best lap of Michael Patrizi at the end a spectacular qualifying session.
Behind Baird and Patrizi, Steven Richards and Daniel Gaunt finished third and fourth, respectively, in the qualifying session; with the quickest four drivers in qualifying all also racing in the 1000 km V8 Supercars endurance race on Sunday.
Ben Barker qualified fifth ahead of Jonny Reid, who ended his qualifying session at Forest Elbow after contacting the tyre wall.
With both practice sessions held in wet conditions, Baird suggested driving on a dry track in the later qualifying session proved difficult for all drivers.
“That was the first session any of us had done in the dry so I think there is room for improvement in the set-up of the car; we didn’t quite have it right so we’ll certainly make some changes overnight,” said Baird.
“I think we’ve got a better race car than what we’ve got as a qualifying car so I’m definitely confident going into tomorrow.”
Matthew Coleman and Tim Leahey qualified seventh and eighth, while Shane Smollen posted the best time of the Elite Class drivers in ninth, ahead of Jeremy Gray in 10th.
“The start of the dry qualifying session felt like we were going out for the first practice session again because we had wet conditions for the first two sessions. Moving from the wet to the dry conditions, it felt like a completely different car,” said Smollen.
“It’s great to be up near the fast guys and I’ll do my best to get a good start and try to hang with them in the race.”
The qualifying session experienced one red flag period after Damien Flack’s car was stranded at Skyline after making contact with the tyre barrier.
Meanwhile in the V8 Supercars qualifying session, Richards and Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing) qualified second ahead of tomorrow’s Top 10 Shootout.
Further down the grid, Gaunt and Tim Slade (Lucky 7 Racing) qualified 15th, Baird and Fabian Coulthard (Bundaberg Racing) qualified 20th, and Patrizi and Dean Fiore (Triple F Racing) qualified 28th for the 1000 km race.
Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia will hold two races on Saturday, with a further race on Sunday morning before the 1000 km V8 Supercar race.