Erebus Racing ended the opening day of track action at Mount Panorama on top, with both of the team’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars leading the way in practice for Sunday’s Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Maro Engel was the star Friday at the Mountain, as the V8 Supercars driver down a new event record time around the famed 3.8-mile circuit.
Engel pedaled the No. 1 Merc to a best time of 2:04.453 lap, which was more than eight-tenths quicker than the sister entry driven by Will Davison, who ended the day in second.
It marked a 1-2 result for the reigning race winners, which will be looking to make it two in Australia’s biggest endurance race.
“It’s been a very good day for us because both cars ran faultlessly and all the drivers managed to get laps in,” Engel said. “Its nice to have set the fastest GT lap around Mount Panorama.
“You only get a handshake for it which is good but we have got our eyes on the bigger prize and would like to stand on the top of the podium come Sunday.
Times dropped significantly as track conditions cooled in the afternoon session, which saw a late improvement from Mika Salo, who put the No. 88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 third on the time sheets.
The top-five overall was completed by the Class B pace-setting No. 23 Lago Lamborghini Gallardo and the No. 32 NISMO Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R, which set the pace in the mid-day session.
Carnage was a major talking point, as a number of cars hit trouble on Friday.
It included an off by the No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Harold Primat, who hit the wall at McPhillamy in the third session.
The German squad, making their Bathurst debut, reported chassis damage to its brand-new gull-winged beast, but hopes to be on track tomorrow.
An additional car that’s questionable for Saturday is the No. 68 Motorsports Services Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, after an accident in the second session by David Glasson. Glasson was evaluated at the circuit’s medical center with neck pain.
The No. 77 AF Corse Ferrari, another car to hit trouble on Friday, returned late in the third session following extensive repairs due to contact with the No. 49 Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari and the No. 71 Audi in the morning.
Vicious Rumour’s weekend, however, has come to an end following chassis damage to its 458 Italia GT3. It is the only official withdrawn entry thus far.
Saturday’s action kicks off at 9 a.m. local with the first of three qualifying sessions that will set the grid for the around-the-clock enduro.