Baird top Kiwi in Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying

Today’s qualifying has seen Craig Baird come out the best of the Kiwi contingent at the Bathurst 12 Hour after expat New Zealander Steven Richard qualified the Interlloy M Motorsport Lamborghini in eleventh position for tomorrow’s event.

The day didn’t start well for the Kiwis after Chris Pither put his Ice Break Racing Porsche RSR into the wall at the infamous ‘Dipper’ late in the final practice session.

“The car was going really good, and I was feeling really comfortable. The lap that I crashed I wasn’t actually going that quick,” Pither said.

“For some reason the ABS locked out and as a result of misjudging my turn in point I glanced the wall on the right which put me into the wall on the left.”

Despite only qualifying 18th, Pither was upbeat at the chance of finishing well come the end of the mammoth Bathurst 12-hour race.

“In the lead up we’d been focusing on race pace until the last qualifying session and obviously we’ve made a considerable jump forward.

“I think we’ve got a pretty solid package, hopefully we’ll be there at the end of the 12 hours and in a good position to challenge for a respectable result.”

After a plethora of red flags throughout Friday practice, just one incident brought proceedings to a halt in qualifying as the MARC Mazda spun at the turn four ‘Cutting’. The car piloted by Dutchman Ivo Breukers sustained substantial rear damage but is expected to contest tomorrow’s race.

A tough opening stanza for Trass Family Motorsports Jono Lester saw the GT3 ace sitting in 14th at the completion of the opening qualifying session for all cars – Lester unable to find clear road to set a clean flying lap.

“It may not look good on paper but we didn’t intend on going for a fast qualifying time. We didn’t go out with the mind set of getting pole because we didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks out there” said a confident Lester.

“Right from practice one yesterday we’ve been working to a plan for the race (…) more importantly we’ve got all three drivers running within a second of each other which puts us in a really good position for tomorrow.

“I couldn’t be happier with yesterday,and I couldn’t be happier with how the team reacted today to the small issue we had with the car. Everybody’s doing their job and doing it well (…) hopefully we’ll be in the top 10 overall tomorrow.”

Experienced touring car racer John McIntyre took the reins of the TFM Ferrari in the final qualifying session but was unable to improve on the time set by Lester in the first session. With a wealth of co-driving experience at the Mount Panorama circuit, McIntyre is set to start tomorrow’s race which commences at 8am NZ time.

“John has the most experience here and is still the most comfortable here without a doubt.

“He’s done plenty of racing here at Bathurst and that’s also why we chose to put John out in qualifying two – we felt that was the smartest move.”

A-class drivers Matt Halliday and Chris Pither will start in 17th and 18th respectively.

Baird top Kiwi in Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying

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