It was an all-out dog fight in Qualifying 1, but when it came down to sorting out the final grid the calculators were smoking ahead of tomorrow’s Australian Endurance Championship opener at Phillip Island.
Eggleston Motorsport have pinched pole position for tomorrow’s Phillip Island 500. The #63 Mercedes was a stagnant figure at the top of the time sheets during Q2, and when the number crunching was complete they were confirmed on pole. Storey and Hackett set a combined time of 1:27.851 securing pole by just 0.208s.
Starting alongside the #63 Mercedes will be the Liam Talbot/John Martin driven #911 Porsche. The Mega Racing car appeared at the pointy end of the time screens throughout Q1 and Q2 ending up in second place with a combined time of 1:28.059.
The paddock’s eyes were on the #74 Jamec Pem car with a star-studded line up of Garth Tander and Geoff Emery. They delivered with a third position for Audi Sport Customer Racing Australia, their combined time a 1:28.356.
Next to the #74 Audi tomorrow will be the #23 Lamborghini, which set the single quickest time across both sessions. Roger Lago and David Russell in the JBS Lamborghini RE-X snared the fastest time in the first qualifying session, with Russell set a staggering 1:26.949. The pairing’s combined time being a 1:28.398, though the car looked well sorted during both sessions and a strong second row of the grid will pay off during the race when all 19 cars thunder down to Turn 1.
Next up will be the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Max Twigg and Tony D’Albeto piloting the car. The AMG showed a strong form in the hands of Twigg setting a combined time of 1:28.611
The top ten was completed by Tim Miles/Jaxon Evans (Audi R8 LMS), Ash Samadi/Chris Pither (another Audi), Steven Richards/James Bergmuller (BMW M6 GT3) and the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 of Peter Edwards and Graeme Smyth.
Further down the time sheets, the gap between fifth and eleventh is just under a second, highlighting the pace of the field we have this weekend.
With 500km ahead of teams and drivers tomorrow, the small differences we’ve seen in qualifying today could prove telling. However, with the prospect of less than clement weather and the likely appearance of the safety car, strategically, the race remains wide open. For now, Hackett and Storey hold the bragging rights, but will it be they who hold the trophy?