The GruppeM Racing team has carried on their fine form from last year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour by ending up at the top of the order at the conclusion of second practice thanks to a quick lap from Raffalele Marciello.
Swiss ace Marciello was in flying form early on in the session, being the first driver of the weekend to go into the 2:04’s with a quick lap in the #999 Mercedes AMG GT3 entry.
In the 50 minute long session it was the star Class A drivers who came out in force to tackle the Mount Panorama circuit as the #77 Craft Bamboo Black Falcon entry of Maro Engel went to the top early on.
The German was able to hustle the Mercedes AMG GT3 around the track in a time of 2:05.1447 in just his second flying lap in the opening ten minutes of the session, showing the pace of the field early on despite the hot conditions.
Marciello was able to crack the 2:05’s as the session crept up on the halfway mark, his time of 2:04.7819 in the #999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing, just one hundredth of a second ahead of Kelvin Van der Linde’s #222 Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Just over ten minutes left to run when the red flag made its second appearance in as many sessions, bringing a halt to the so far clear 50 minute hitout.
With Engel still behind the wheel of the #77 machine, he lost control at Griffin’s Bend, causing the brief stoppage. At the same time the #12 NED Racing Team Porsche GT3 R of Romain Dumas stopped on track, managing to get a tow back to the pit lane under the red flag conditions.
As only a handful of minutes remained when the session returned to green flag conditions, Marciello’s time stood at the top of the order, still followed by the #222 Audi R8 LMS GT3 with the fenced #77 of Maro Engel’s time remaining third fastest.
The #4 Grove Racing Porsche GT3 R ended the session as the quickest of the Pro-Am entries in 11th overall while the Silver Class A #29 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Trofeo Motorsport topped their category, resulting in an overall result of 13th.
Practice 3 will begin at 12:20pm local time.
Words: Jordan Mulach