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Intercontinental GT Challenge

GruppeM Fastest in Interrupted Opening Practice Sessions

Raffaele Marciello paces incident-filled opening sessions for Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour…

Photo: John Dagys

Raffaele Marciello put Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing on top after the opening practice sessions at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, in an interrupted morning at Mount Panorama.

Josh Burdon suffered an incident in the No. 35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in Practice 1 at the top of the Mountain as track action got underway for the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season-opener.

Burdon slapped the concrete wall on driver’s left at Reid Park with under five minutes remaining, with the session red-flagged and ultimately called to an early end.

Ironically Burdon banked the quickest time of the session for drivers excluding Class A Platinum and Gold-rated drivers, with a 2:06.553 lap time.

The start of Practice 2 was delayed and shortened by 10 minutes as the clean up took place and KCMG Nissan was recovered.

Marciello put in an early lap time of 2:04.781 aboard the No. 999 GruppeM Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to go to the top in the second session, meanwhile.

Practice 2 was also red-flagged in the final 15 minutes with two GT3 cars striking drama.

Romain Dumas came to a halt in the No. 12 NED Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 R at Forrest Elbow and needed a tow back to the pit lane.

Maro Engel also had trouble in the No. 77 Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo and was brought back to the paddock with damage to the rear.

The session resumed with a handful of minutes to go, with no major changes on the timing sheets.

Marciello’s time stood by 0.01 seconds ahead of Kelvin van der Linde in the No. 222 Team Valvoline Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, with Engel third despite the late incident.

The No. 22 Audi of Christopher Mies ended up fourth, while Earl Bamber made it five German brands in the top five in the No. 1 EBM Porsche.

R-Motorsport’s No. 62 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 only completed a single lap between both sessions in the hands of Oliver Caldwell after reportedly being setback by driveshaft issues.

Practice 3 is scheduled to get underway at 12:20 p.m. local time.

RESULTS: Free Practice 1
RESULTS: Free Practice 2

Slade Perrins is an Australian-based reporter for Sportscar365. Perrins won the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars 'Young Gun Award' for journalism for his work with speedcafe.com.

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