Porsche PAYCE and Michelin Cup
The headline act for the 2020 Shannons Motorsport Australia Festival lived up to its expectations on the first day of action with the combined one-make series enjoying two practice sessions, as well as being the first of the categories to qualify.
Topping the timesheets in all three sessions was 2019 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge winner Harri Jones with the Queenslander breaking the Sandown qualifying record at the same time.
It was a massive effort from the youngster, whose eighth lap time of 1:09.6704 seconds saw him beat Matt Campbell’s 2016 effort by eighth thousands of a second and securing pole position for the category’s first race tomorrow morning.
Just over three hundredths of a second behind Jones was Aaron Love while the West Australian’s Sonic Motor Racing teammate Michael Almond grabbed third place over Nick McBride by seventh hundredths.
The series will return tomorrow with the two races throughout the day.
Sprints, Regularity and PCV
The three category field of 18 drivers saw two drivers battle it out for most of the day as Porsche GT3 996 pilot Peter Harrison was the fastest in three of four sessions.
His biggest competition came in the form of a fellow Porsche GT3 driver in Tony Carolan with the duo each claiming bragging rights once during the opening two sessions.
However, Harrison eventually stretched the buffer between the two in the third and fourth practice with the end difference at the end of the day being almost two seconds.
Stuart Dearden was the best of the non-Porsche completions, steering his Ford Falcon to the fastest time in all four of the sessions, including an impressive fourth place in the third.
The category will split up tomorrow with the Porsche drivers getting four sprint sessions tomorrow, while the remaining cars will split into two group and enjoy four sessions.
Excel and BMW E30s
A combined grid saw the Hyundai Excels and BMW E30s share the track four times today for their practice sessions and both categories saw one driver dominate the field.
Fastest across the day in the BMW class and outright was Brian Bourke with his second session time of 1:28.4245 the time to beat. Bourke only took part in three sessions and was the best in all three, while Simon Leach, who finished second in all three managed to come away with the best time in the last.
In the Hyundai Excels, Callum Potter claimed bragging rights in all three of the sessions he took part in, while Timothy Yates ended the day on a high courtesy of his sixth lap time in the final session earning him honours.
The categories will split for tomorrow’s action with Excel qualifying in the morning before have their first race in the early afternoon.
The BMW drivers will enjoy a qualifying session and race on Saturday.
What started as one of the closest battles of all the categories ended up as a one-side affair as Tommy Smith ended the day with three session wins over Australian Prototypes Series regular, Phil Hughes.
Behind the wheel of his Radical SR8, Hughes managed to scrape past Smith in the opening session of the day, posting a time just one hundredths of a second faster.
However that’s as good as it got for Hughes as Smith guided his Tatuus FT50 to the fastest time remaining three sessions, which included two gaps of three seconds the middle two outings,
Marcos Flack was the other standout performer of the day with the Mygale Formula 4 driver grabbing two top three finishes.
MG and Invited British
The final category of the day saw another combined field saw the MG and Invited British cars on display and it was a similar story to the Excel and BMW E30s field.
One driver was a cut above the rest was Philip Chester, who comfortably picked up the fastest time in all three sessions he took part in, including the day’s fastest time of 1:18.6280.
His closest competitor was a fellow MG driver Vincenzo Gucciardo who finished second in each session.
Keith Ondarchie was the only driver of the British cars to post the fastest time in the class on multiple occasions while Michael Roddy was the fastest in the second session.
Both classes will return to a shared grid tomorrow with its first track appearance being qualifying at 10:30am, which will set up the first race at 3:30pm.
Photo: Ross Green