April 3, 2015 | General


A WET START and a delay for foggy conditions has failed to dampen the spirits of most competitors during practice and qualifying for the 2015 Bathurst Motor Festival.Grids were today set for the beginning of racing tomorrow morning but competitors had to deal with the infamous Bathurst weather before they could get down to setting quick lap times.Persistent rain fell for much of the morning at Mount Panorama and a one-hour delay for thick fog that blanketed the top of the circuit also delayed proceedings.Once action recommenced, Four-wheel-drive traction prevailed in the Heritage Touring Cars qualifying session, Terry Lawlor taking a commanding pole position in wet conditions in his ex-GIO Racing Nissan Skyline GT-R.Brian Sala (Ford Sierra RS500) was second and Mark Eddy third in his Nissan Skyline HR31 while Gary Collins upheld the faith of the V8 fans with fourth in his VL Group A Commodore.The first Group C car Jeff Trembath 11th outright in his VC Commodore with Neville Butler 14th in his XD Ford Falcon. 33 cars banked times in the session, held on a gradually drying track.The closest session of the day was reserved for the Group N Historic Touring Cars, with Dean Neville (Camaro) edging out Touring Car Masters regular Brad Tilley’s Ford Mustang by a scant 0.02s.West Australian Daryl Hansen was third in his Mustang coupe, Vince Macri (Camaro) and Michael Anderson (Falcon) rounding out the top five.A flying lap before a lengthy red-flag ensured local driver Brad Shiels did enough to put the IMAK Porsche GT3R he will share this weekend with Andrew MacPherson on pole for the CUE Production Sports Car enduros.Using the early running in the second – dry – qualifying session to his advantage, Shiels 2m10.86s lap  more than enough to see him grab pole position for the first one-hour race tomorrow.The pair will be looking for a strong result this weekend after being knocked out of February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour before the two-hour mark.The second of two sessions was red flagged when a pair of Porsche’s – a 997 Cup S driven by Aaron Tebb and one of the Motorsport Services 997 Cup Cars with Tim James – crashed at the top of the mountain.A short dash following the stoppage saw several drivers improve their times with Barton Mawer (Audi R8) jumping to second and Rod Salmon to third in his similar Audi.A bulk of the top-10 was made up GT heavy-hitters, with Mark Griffith (Audi R8) fourth, Neale Muston (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) fifth and Renato Loberto (Ferrari 458) sixth.Steven McLaughlan (Dodge Viper), Aaron Tebb, Nicholas Marentis (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) and Ford GT40-bound Stephen Fleming rounded out the top-10.Dylan Thomas stormed to a strong pole position in the Shaw Vineyards NSW Production Touring Car Series qualifying, taking his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X to pole position by comfortable margin over the chasing pack.  Luke Searle and Barry Graham will start second in their BMW M135i, just ahead of Brian Anderson’s BMW M3 and Jim Pollicina’s Mitsubishi.Like the Production Sports Cars, the Production Touring field hits the track tomorrow for the first of two, one-hour endurance races scheduled for this weekend.Qualifying for the NSW Road Racing Club’s ‘Combined Sedans’ grid was held on a wet track, ensuring challenging conditions for the field of cars that includes several ex-V8 Supercars and Sports Sedans amongst a diverse array of machinery.  Kumho V8 Touring Cars regular Matt Palmer scored top spot in his ex-Brad Jones Racing BF Falcon, comfortably clear of Shawn Jamieson’s ex-Team Dynamic VZ Commodore.Ex-V8 Supercars filled the top five positions with Stephen Voight (ex-Holden Racing Team VZ Commodore), Andrew Cantrell (Ex-GSR EL Falcon) and Jason Heck (ex-Ford Performance Racing BF Falcon) next.Garry Hills took pole in a red-flag interrupted Saloon Car qualifying session, the West Australian taking his VT Commodore to the top spot over Colbey Cowham’s AU Falcon by just 0.3 seconds – however the session ultimately had no bearing on the grid for the opening race.The lack of track time for more than half the field saw the sessions results declared void with race officials forced to work with competitors on a revised way to set the grid.Ultimately, the series reverted to practice times from earlier in the day ensuring Queenslanders Ashley Jarvis and Colbey Cowham will start from the front row of the grid in their Ford Falcons. Kane Baxter-Smith and Wayne King will start from the second row of the grid for the first race tomorrow.Meanwhile, a massive field of Porsches practiced today in the Porsche Club of NSW regularity sessions ahead of their first against-the-clock competition tomorrow.Racing gets underway tomorrow morning – live timing for all on-track activity is available via the Bathurst Motor Festival website at