***Mount Panorama has claimed its first victim of the weekend, when Florian Strauss lost control of his No. 24 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in Free Practice 3, clouting the wall at Metal Grate. While the 2015 race winner managed to limp the car back to the pits, significant damage was sustained, including to the chassis.
***Although an official word has not yet been given, the team is “cautiously optimistic” repairs can be made to get Strauss and co-drivers Todd Kelly and Jann Mardenborough back on track for the race. The car missed FP4 on Friday afternoon, with the sister No. 23 Nissan having set the 8th quickest time in the session.
***Strauss’ crash was the only major on-track incident from the GT3 contenders today. The No. 55 RA Motorsports Ginetta G55 GT4 of Tim Berryman spun off-track with suspension failure, after leading the way in its class. The accident halted FP4.
***The No. 37 Keltic Racing McLaren 650S GT3, meanwhile, has run into engine trouble and like the Nissan, also missed today’s final practice session.
***Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari factory drivers turned laps in high-performance road cars, during scheduled “manufacturer track time” prior to FP1 and FP4. Bernd Schneider recorded a 2:17 lap time in a Mercedes-AMG GT R, which was remarkably just over 10 seconds slower than the best time set in his HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 on Friday.
***Maro Engel was also on track, in a Mercedes C-Class sports sedan, while Toni Vilander took the wheel of a LaFerrari, reportedly one of only two of the hypercars in Australia. The Finn tweeted that he reached a top speed of 198 mph down the Conrod Straight.
***Competition Motorsports drivers David Calvert-Jones and Patrick Long faced off with members of the media in virtual laps around Bathurst, in CXC Simulation’s Motion Pro II, outfitted with Oculus Rift Virtual Reality. Utilizing iRacing and the newly released Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, Calvert-Jones turned a quick lap of 2:15.637, with Long at 2:18.935. This author recorded a 2:23.316, in his first lap in the high-tech simulator.
***SRO Motorsports Group boss Stephane Ratel said plans are still in place for the Intercontinental GT Challenge to end the season in Sepang, despite a disappointing turnout last year. “At the moment in Asia, the only existing long-distance GT3 race is Sepang. We don’t have another one. If there’s another one, maybe we could go to that eventually,” Ratel told Sportscar365.
***The Sepang 12 Hours is set for Dec. 9-10, with the new-for-2017 California 8 Hours, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, scheduled for Oct. 14-15. The next round of the IGTC will take place at the 24 Hours of Spa, and is eligible for GT3 cars only.
***All of tomorrow’s action, from final practice to qualifying and the Pirelli Top 10 Shootout, for the Allan Simonsen Pole Trophy, will be streamed live on NISMO.tv. Find out what time the action gets underway with the following schedule, featuring multiple time zones.