Hong Kong-based Mercedes outfit GruppeM Motorsport has taken the practice honours in a tight finish to the opening day at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The AMG GT3 shared by Italian Raffaele Marciello and Germans Maximilian Goetz and Maximilian Buhk recorded the quickest time of the day in the fourth and final hit-out of the day.
Close behind were entries featuring Supercars Bathurst 1000 winners, with Garth Tander’s Audi second, Chaz Mostert’s BMW third and the Ferrari driven by Nick Percat and Tim Slade fourth.
2017 Bathurst winning duo David Reynolds and Luke Youlden helped record the ninth best overall time in their Mercedes entry, while the Mercedes driven by Craig Lowndes, Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen heads into Saturday as the 12th quickest entry following today’s four combined practice session times.
Team GruppeM Racing jumped up to the top of the time sheets with quick Italian Raffaele Marciello behind the wheel of the bright yellow and green #999.
Marciello’s time from P2 stood until the end of the fourth practice session despite some challenges in the dying moments of today’s final session.
Following practice Marciello said “It’s still a long weekend, normally my team is pretty quick at any track we go. Everything looks good, the team is good, it’s just to stay safe until the race and the last hour.”
“I know the car pretty well, I did 25 races last year. I have every confidence in the world. We are all three really quick, we just need to stay out of trouble.
“It’s more to put pressure on others than on us because we know where we are and what we can do. We know we can win, so do two or three teams there. We know where we are.”
After clocking up the fourth quickest time of the day, Supercar driver Tim Slade said “It was quite cool seeing the time sheets in all the sessions showing the different brands of cars so close. They all make their times on different parts of the circuit.”
“The Ferrari has some pretty good history around the mountain. Nick has done a lot of miles in the car and GT3 cars in the last 18 months and I was lucky to do half a dozen races in Asia last year. And Nick has got some laps in before Christmas.”
Action resumes on Saturday morning at 8:35 local time as the teams get in their final runs before qualifying and the all-important top ten shootout tomorrow afternoon.
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour will be broadcast on 7mate on Saturday afternoon for the Top Ten Shootout (check local guides) and from 5:30am 6:00pm AEDT on Sunday.
Check this link from www.bathurst12hour.com.au for details regarding live streaming across the weekend.