Published on February 8th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mercedes Takes Pole At The 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour
Maro Engel brilliantly squeezed pole position for his Erebus Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in a stunning 2 minutes, 03.8586 seconds, the fastest official lap of Mount Panorama.
Engel’s heroics gave Mercedes some temporary bragging rights but everyone at Mount Panorama knows the 12 Hour will fall to the team with the best mix of pace, fuel efficiency and reliability. Possibly a little luck, too. Staying away from rival cars and the circuit’s unyielding concrete walls is an imperative.
Engel said being fastest in qualifying and winning the accompanying Allan Simonsen Pole Position Trophy was ”very special”. He immediately dedicated it to the man after whom the trophy was named (Bathurst ace Simonsen was killed at a crash at Le Mans last year) and another race driver friend who died in a track shunt several months ago, Sean Edwards.
In blazing sunshine, the classy Bathurst 12 Hour field of GT cars went gunning for pole. Engel, sharing the SLS with German legend Bernd Schneider and newcomer Nico Bastian, snatched the glory from the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari F438 team of former formula one star Mika Salo, Craig Lowndes, John Bowe and Peter Edwards. The difference: a mere 0.08sec.
Schneider, who has seen it all in his long career, said ”pole is good to have but it doesn’t mean a thing at 6.15am Sunday [the race’s start time]”.
Third fastest was the McLaren MP4-12C team of Tony Quinn, Klark Quinn and V8 Supercars’ speedster Shane van Gisbergen, who punched out a lap in 2.04.0006.
The second Erebus Mercedes of Aussies Will Davison, Jack Le Brocq, Greg Crick was also very quick, taking fourth ahead of the Nissan GT-R NISMO of internationals Rick Kelly, Alex Buncombe, Wolfgang Reip and Katsumasa Chiyo.
Adding to the mix of brands at the pointy end, the Lamborghini Gallardo of Roger Lago, David Russell and Peter Kox qualified sixth, followed by a brace of Audi R8 Ultras.
Further back, with a nod to show business, the Lamborghini in which actor Eric Bana will share, will start 28th in a 42-car field.
Television personality Craig Denyer will start 21st with Andrew Miedecke, Garry Jacobson and Adam Gowans in a Ford Focus V8.
Three tiny, brightly hued Abarth 500s entered by Fiat Chrysler all qualified but their drivers are expecting to deal with enormous closing speeds of the GT front-runners. They have the help of the latest in rear-camera technology that can detect approaching cars.
A handful of 12-Hour contenders crashed heavily in Friday’s practice, with more carnage in Saturday’s qualifying sessions when the dozen or so favourites chased pole. Bathurst 1000 winner and V8 Supercars regular Jason Bright was taken to hospital for observation after he belted a wall hard in a locally entered Audi R8 LMS Ultra. The car joins a Ferrari F458 on the sidelines.