The local New Zealand entry of Matt Halliday and Andrew Bagnall have topped the opening Practice session for the Hampton Downs 500.
The Audi duo went fastest in the 60-minute hit out with a lap time of 1:41.564, as persistent rain fell throughout.
Halliday’s time ended up being 1.3 seconds quicker than the Eggleston Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Dominic Storey and Peter Hackett, while the Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari 458 GT3 of Gene Rollinson and Andrew Fawcett rounded out the top three, with a 1:43.188.
Liam Talbot and John Martin finished up in fourth position by the chequered flag, after leading the time sheets early on in the Mega Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R.
Defending Hampton Downs 500 champions Roger Lago and David Russell landed themselves in fifth place, ahead of the Tony Quinn and Andrew Waite driven McLaren 650s in sixth.
Current series leaders, Tim Miles and Jaxon Evans set the seventh fastest time in the #75 Jamec Pem Racing Audi R8 LMS, while Fraser Ross and Alvaro Parente settled in eighth aboard the YNA Autosport McLaren 650s.
The top ten was completed by the Zagame Autosport Lamborghini Huracan of Adrian Deitz and Cameron McConville, with the Steven Richards/Dylan O’Keeffe BMW M6 GT3 claiming tenth.
Speaking after the session, Halliday admitted he was confident after posting the quickest time and feels there is more in it as he slowly gets used to the circuit on his first ever visit to Hampton Downs.
“I didn’t get a lot of laps, maybe seven or eight, but I made a few small adjustments to the car and I got back in for a few laps at the end of practice,” Halliday told Velocity News.
“The car felt really good. We were nearly two seconds quicker than everybody else so it’s a good start to the weekend.
“We’ll sit down tonight and have a debrief and we’ll look to find a bit more time tomorrow.
“I got off the plane from LA this morning. I’ve never been to Hampton Downs in my life. It’s quite a tricky track to learn with the small undulations.
“There hasn’t been any category in New Zealand for me to race in for the last eight years, but I know these GT cars very well and I know the International Motorsport guys very well so it’s a good excuse to race at home again.”
The one hour Practice session was the only outing for the GT cars today, with a second 60-minute Practice scheduled for 8:30am (local time) tomorrow – Saturday – before the first of two provisional qualifying sessions at 10.50am (local time).
The top 10-shootout kicks off at 2:10pm (local time) and will be live streamed on the Australian GT website.