Phoenix Racing will start Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour from the pole following a record-breaking qualifying run by Laurens Vanthoor at Mt. Panorama.
The reigning Blancpain Endurance Series Champion became the fastest man around Bathurst, reeling off a scorching 2:02.552 lap time in his No. 15 Audi R8 LMS ultra in the closing minutes of an action-packed Qualifying 2.
Vanthoor’s new lap record bumped the No. 32 JBS Australia Lamborghini Gallardo of David Russell from provisional pole. The Australian held point for the majority of the 20-minute session, but lost out to the Audi with less than four minutes to go.
It marked pole for the Phoenix squad of Vanthoor and co-drivers Markus Winkelhock and Marco Mapelli, with the Belgian claiming the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy for the first time.
Russell’s 2:03.175 lap time was good enough to hold onto second, while the No. 35 NISMO Athlete Global Team Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 will roll off third, and first in the GT3 Am class, despite an accident by Katsumasa Chiyo.
The Japanese driver backed his factory GT-R into the wall midway through the session but managed to limp the car back to the pits and not bring out a red flag.
However, the session was halted moments later when the No. 7 VodkaO Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 went into the wall at the Cutting and the No. 27 TFM Ferrari Motorsport NZ Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 stopped on track.
Michele Rugolo qualified the No. 4 AF Corse Ferrari in fourth, while the No. 97 Craft-Bamboo Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Stefan Muecke completed the top-five overall, which saw five different manufacturers represented.
Clearwater Racing (Ferrari), Erebus Motorsport (Mercedes) VIP Petfoods (McLaren), Hallmark/Network Clothing (Audi) and Bentley M-Sport completed the top-10.
The majority of the times were set in Q2, with the No. 9 Audi the only car unable to improve in the final session.
Class pole-sitters for tomorrow’s around-the-clock Australian enduro include the No. 47 Supabarn Supermarkets Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Class B), No. 93 MARC Cars Australia MARC Focus V8 (Invitational) and the No. 42 Hallmark Homes BMW E46 GTR (Class D).
The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour gets underway Sunday at 5:50 a.m. local (Saturday, 1:50 p.m. ET).
RESULTS: Qualifying (Combined)