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BMW sets the pace in 12-hour practice

BMW entries have finished first and second in practice for Sunday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour today at Mount Panorama.

A flying lap from two-time German DTM Champion Marco Wittman put the No. 60 BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 to the top of the times in the final practice session of the day – his 2m03.219s lap standing as the fastest time of the day.

Wittman will share his M6 GT3 with four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Steven Richards and Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom this weekend.

“We have to see how the rest of the weekend goes,” Wittman said after his lap.

“They were definitely good laps and getting a clean lap is important here. It went pretty well in free practice but it is tomorrow that counts.

“I really like to be here in Bathurst and it is my first time racing here. The track is challenging and good for drivers. The car looks great. Proud to be here with Steve Richards and to drive with Mark Winterbottom too.”

 Wittman narrowly edged out MARC GT BMW driver Chaz Mostert, whose practice three benchmark of 2m03.312s was less than 0.1 seconds behind Wittman’s later benchmark.

 Mostert’s lap – the first into the 2m03s for the day – came in the dying seconds of the third session of four and had the former Bathurst 1000 winner positive about their chances this weekend.

“It was pretty lucky, I had one or two cars I had to pass but I was on the straight, so was lucky enough to have a clear lap,” Mostert said following the session.

“The car felt pretty good, we will keep making some adjustments and see if we can make it a bit faster. There is a bit more in the car and in me I think – it was my first session. I think everyone up and down pit lane has more in them.”

Double Bathurst 12 hour winner Christoper Mies put his JAMEC-PEM Racing Audi R8 LMS third overall on combined times with a 2m03.913s, while Toni Vilander’s best of 2m04.192s saw the Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 488 he will share with Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup set the fourth fastest time of the day.

Whincup, in particular, impressed in his first laps behind the wheel of the bright red Ferrari at Mount Panorama, the six-time Supercars champion lapping within tenths of Vilander’s best time.

BMW topped three of the four session today, Russell Ingall topping the first session of the day for ‘Am or unseeded’ drivers – while Vilander’s personal best of the day had him on top of the second session.

A relatively clean day of action saw only two red flags throughout the four sessions – and more than three hours of running – however one claimed a pre-race favourite early in the weekend.

Driven at the time by former 12-hour winner Florian Strauss, the No. 44 Nissan GT-R suffered heavy damaged following a crash at the infamous ‘Metal Grate’ at the top of Mount Panorama.

The car missed the final session of the day as they worked to repair the significant front end damage caused to the car Strauss will share with Todd Kelly and Jann Mardenborough.

The only other outright contender to strike dramas was the Keltic Racing McLaren 650S GT3, engine dramas halting an otherwise promising start to their day and necessitating heavy repairs before they return to action tomorrow.

The Grove Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car topped the Class B, while the RA Motorsport Ginetta G55 topped Class C (GT4) and the Daytona Sportscars Dodge Viper the Racer Industries Invitational Class.

Saturday’s action will see a further one-hour practice session between 8-9am in the morning, prior to an all-in 60-minute qualifying session that starts at 10:40. A 20-minute session for the GT3 cars only will then set the 10 contenders for the Pirelli Top-10 Shootout later in the afternoon.

The Pirelli shootout will be broadcast live on 7mate between 3:30pm – 4:30pm.

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