A sensational lap from David Russell saw the JBS Australia Lamborghini R-EX rocket to their first CAMS Australian GT Endurance Championship pole position.
Having been fastest on the opening day’s running, the Russell/Roger Lago combination confirmed their credentials at the head of the field in a thrilling Top 10 Shootout following two qualifying sessions earlier in the day.
With the track to himself and in front of live television cameras broadcasting the session for TV3 in New Zealand and globally via a live stream, Russell put in a committed lap to seize pole by a tenth of a second over second placed George Miedecke.
Seven of the ten manufacturers represented this weekend made it in the Top 10 Shootout, each making time in different parts of the challenging Hampton Downs layout.
A tidy lap from George Miedecke landed the Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 alongside Russell on the front row, backing up the pace they showed when winning Round 2 at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Klark Quinn entrusted new co-driver Mike Whiddett with the task of setting their Shootout lap, the drifting superstar having adapted superbly to the Darrell Lea McLaren 650S GT3 on his circuit racing debut.
Whiddett produced an aggressive lap, opening the Shootout with some lightning sector times before a mistake in the final corner saw him end the lap with a spin.
It was a prelude to the drama that would unfold throughout the remaining Top 10 Shootout with high commitment laps as drivers pushed their cars to the absolute limit of adhesion.
Reigning Australian GT Champion Christopher Mies danced the JAMEC PEM Audi R8 LMS around the 4-kilometre circuit and will start fourth with co-driver Tony Bates, while Greg Murphy showed he’s lost none of his racer’s edge to record the fifth best time in the RJ’s Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 he’ll share with Tony Quinn.
Marcus Marshall also held nothing back, setting the pace early.
Despite dropping two wheels off the back of the kerb on the exit at the Porsche Dipper his pace proved strong enough to see of the challenge from Nathan Morcom in the championship leading McLaren 650S GT3.
Having held the fastest combined time after the two qualifying sessions, John Martin headed out of pit lane last in the Shootout driving the Walkinshaw Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R to record the seventh fastest lap in the session.
From 11th position the grid was determined by the average result from the two traditional qualifying sessions, the shootout proving a hugely dramatic and popular addition to the qualifying process, setting the grid for tomorrow’s Hampton Downs 101.
The race will be broadcast live on TV3 in New Zealand and Fox Sports in Australia, with live streaming allowing fans locally to stay abreast of the action via Speedcafe.com.
Coverage in New Zealand starts from 13:00 while Fox Sports will show the race live in its entirety.