Triple Eight has ended Friday’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour running in a strong position after its cars went one-two in the day’s final outing, headed by the #888 entry of Shane van Gisbergen.
The 2016 event winner hustled the Mercedes AMG GT3 around the Mount Panorama Circuit faster than anyone else throughout the day, just edging out team-mate Anton de Pasquale in the sister #777 car.
The final session for the day only ran for ten minutes before the red flag made an appearance, coming out thanks to a mistake from Sergey Afanasiev heading down from Skyline in the #46 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3.
With the #46 Mercedes recovered quickly, the session got back underway with Jamie Whincup heading the standings, posting a best time of a 2:06 flat early on in the #888 Mercedes.
Ben Barker brought Porsche back to the top of the table with the first 2:05 of the session, driving the #4 Grove Racing Porsche GT3 R to first in the overall and Pro-Am standings.
Practice two pacesetter Raffalele Marciello was quick to respond with a 2:04.9404 aboard the #999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing entry, just a tenth clear of the Grove Racing car only half an hour into the final session.
In the late charge as the clock neared zero, the new fastest lap of the day was posted by Anton de Pasquale, a 2:04.3668 standing as the quickest tour of the circuit in the #777 Pro-Am Mercedes.
His time was only just eclipsed in the dying moments by van Gisbgeren, his #888 Mercedes finally able to dip below a 2:04 with a time of 2:03.9649, a time de Pasquale couldn’t match.
With the session over, van Gisbergen headed de Pasquale as the Audi entries of Kelvin Van der Linde and Chris Mies broke up the Mercedes party, rounded out by Marciello’s time at the edge of the top five.
Following an earlier crash in the opening practice session, the #35 Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 of Josh Burdon, Katsumasa Chiyo and Tsugio Matsuda has been withdrawn from the event due to excessive damage, reducing the field to 38 cars.
Words: Jordan Mulach