A blistering lap from Klark Quinn has secured the McLaren 650S GT3 driver provisional pole position for the first of two CAMS Australian GT Championship races at Townsville this weekend.
The former two-time series champion set the pace on an improving circuit, his 1:12.8207 putting the Darrell Lea entry at the top of the table in a field which saw the first eight cars covered by a single second.
The Reid Park circuit clearly suited the McLaren, with Grant Denyer (McLaren Melbourne) in another 650S GT3 second fastest and Elliot Barbour (Beechwood/SLR/Buildmap) recording the fourth fastest time.
In amongst the McLaren trio was Roger Lago, the Queenslader steering his JBS Australia entry to third fastest in the opening qualifying foray.
It was the perfect response from Lago, who became a victim of the unforgiving Red Park circuit last year while racing a Porsche 911 Cup Car.
Three Audis featured in the top ten, James Koundouris getting the most out of the Supebarn R8 LMS to qualify fifth before handing the car over to Marcus Marshall for tomorrow’s second qualifying session.
Teams running a two driver combination this weekend will feature their second driver in tomorrow’s session, which will see 2015 Australian GT champion Christopher Mies on track for the first time since Round 2.
Nathan Antunes, winner of Race 2 at Townsville a year ago, will step into the McLaren he shares with Barbour while Craig Baird will climb aboard the race winning STM Mercedes AMG GT3 in place of Scott Taylor.
As the Reid Park circuit continues to evolve, Quinn expects stiff competition in tomorrow’s second qualifying session and predicts times will tumble.
“The track is getting better and better,” Quinn said. “There’s more to come tomorrow, I think pole will be a low 1:12 because the track will be better again in the morning.”
Qualifying 2 gets underway at 9:25am tomorrow (July 9) ahead of the first of two 60-minute races at 11:40am.
The weekend concludes with Race 2, starting at 11:25am on Sunday (July 10).