Lester claims pole for Australian GT Clipsal 500 opener

MotorNews.co.nz

JONO Lester has claimed the first pole position of the new Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli season on the streets of Adelaide today (Friday February 27).

The young Kiwi took the Trass Family Ferrari 458 Italia to the team’s maiden AGT pole in today’s 20 minute qualifying session – but it wasn’t without drama.

After setting what turned out to be the pole time of 1m21.4865s, Lester’s co-driver Paul Kelly clashed with Erebus Mercedes-Benz pilot Morgan Haber at the Turn 9 hairpin.

The resultant damage to the Mercedes sidelined Haber without steering and brought out the second red flag of the session, though his previous best lap was enough to put him fifth on the timesheets.

Kelly was able to drive away from the clash, taking the first pole for a Ferrari in AGT since John Bowe at Sydney Motorsport Park back in 2012.

His pole also meant that six drivers have taken the last six pole positions in Australian GT since mid last year.

Lester ended up just 0.0465s clear of German Christopher Mies’ #74 Audi R8 LMS Ultra, the margin being the third-closest pole winning margin in category history.

Mies and co-driver Greg Crick will start on the outside of row 1 in Race 1 tomorrow with the Aston Martin of Dean Canto/Andrew Taplin and the Audi of Nathan Antunes filling the second row of the grid.

The 20-minute session was ended with just less than nine minutes left on the clock after two red flags delayed on-track running.

The first came out after Ginetta driver Michael Hovey spun under brakes at the Turn 9 hairpin and the second came out after the clash between Lester and Haber.

Haber qualified fifth for Erebus clear of Steven Johnson in the second JAMEC PEM Audi with Klark Quinn seventh in the McLaren MP4-12C.

Two-time Australian GT Adelaide round winner Quinn is now being joined in his #37 McLaren by father Tony after his new 650S was damaged in an accident in practice yesterday.

Marcus Marshall was eighth fastest in James Koundouris’ Porsche clear of the first Trophy Class car, the Audi R8 of Barton Mawer from Wall Racing.

Lamborghini pilot John Migro rounded out the top 10 while Matt Kingsley led the Challenge Class and was 19th overall in the Porsche he shares with Brendan Cook.

The pair of thundering V8 Camaros (Justin McMillan/Tomas Enge and Dale Paterson/Steve Richards) will have to slice their way through the field from down the back of the grid tomorrow.
Race 1 will be held tomorrow morning at 8.55am local time (9.25am AEDT) and will be a 30-minute race with a compulsory pit stop with no driver change permitted.

Race 2 will be held tomorrow evening at 5.40pm local time (6.10pm AEDT) and will be a 60-minute race with driver changes permitted for those cars with two drivers entered.

Race 3 on Sunday morning – a 30-minute single driver race with a compulsory pit stop – will complete the opening round of the season.

All sessions of the Australian GT Championship Presented by Pirelli are being televised as part of FOX Sports’ coverage of the Clipsal 500 weekend.

The action is on FOX Sports 5, channel 506.

Lester claims pole for Australian GT Clipsal 500 opener

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