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Bathurst 12H

Salo on Provisional Pole at Bathurst

Mika Salo puts Maranello Motorsport Ferrari on provisional pole at Bathurst…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

An incident opening qualifying session ended with a Ferrari on provisional pole for Sunday’s Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

Mika Salo saved the best for last, as the veteran GT driver wheeled the No. 88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia to a new qualifying lap record of 2:03.942 in the final lap of the extended 65-minute qualifying session, which was stopped twice due to two heavy accidents.

The flying Finn’s time edged out Friday’s pace-setting No. 1 Erebus Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Maro Engel by 0.822 seconds, who also made a late improvement.

Salo sits in prime position to take the inaugural Allan Simonsen Trophy, which will be awarded to the pole-winning team. Simonsen was part of the Maranello squad last year, which no doubt has given the team some extra motivation.

V8 Supercars star Rick Kelly reeled off a 2:04.822 lap time in the No. 32 NISMO Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R GT3 to go third quickest in the session, followed by the Shane van Gisbergen-driven No. 37 VIP McLaren MP4-12C in fourth.

Christopher Mies completed the provisional top-five in the No. 9 Marc Cini Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Class B was led by the No. 14 Rotek Racing Audi R8 LMS of Rob Huff with a 2:07.990 lap time. The No. 23 Lago Lamborghini Gallardo, which topped the time charts on Friday, did not elect to take part in the morning session.

The session saw two significant accidents, the first involving the No. 5 Skwirk Audi of Jason Bright, who crashed at the top of the Mountain and collected two Porsches.

The V8 Supercars star, who climbed from the car under his own power, has been sent to a local hospital for a precautionary MRI scan, with the Audi having been ruled out for the race due to extensive damage.

The second red came out for the Class D Daytona Sportscar Coupe, which was stranded at the exit of Cutting.

The No. 84 HTP Motorsports Mercedes, meanwhile, returned to action after making repairs to its chassis overnight, while the No. 68 Motorsports Services Porsche, the other car in question following an accident on Friday, has been withdrawn.

Two additional qualifying sessions still remain for the Class A cars, beginning at 1:30 p.m. local.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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