Fresh from a resounding sweep of the podium at Phillip Island during the last round of the championship, Sonic Motor Racing’s Dale Wood and Jordan Love filled the first two spots in practice today, mirroring their positions in the championship as the series reaches it’s half-way point this weekend.
2018 Darwin polesitter David Wall was third, but Sonic’s third driver Michael Almond was fourth overall today.
Adrian Flack topped TAG Heuer Pro-Am in both 25-minute sessions to set up a potentially strong weekend.
Hidden Valley was Melbourne-based Sonic Racing’s bogey track last season, however their recent Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia form stretches back to the start of round two; winning the last seven consecutive races, the last two rounds and filling the podium last time out in Victoria.
Wood’s 1m07.4912s flyer came late in the second practice session as several teams bolted new Michelin tyres onto their cars for a qualifying simulation.
He edged his teammate by 0.2 seconds with David Wall third overall based on his time set in practice one in cooler conditions earlier today.
Wood has finished first, second or third in every race so far this season while Love has won the last five straight to close to within 21 points of his teammate in the championship standings.
Wall is yet to win a round this year, however sits fourth in the championship and within striking distance of the leaders ahead of this weekend’s three races.
Friday’s practice sessions resembled qualifying as teams tried to dial in their cars ahead of setting the grid tomorrow morning.
Behind the top four, Porsche Michelin Junior driver Cameron Hill was an impressive fifth and Round 1 winner Nick McBride sixth in his Porsche Centre Melbourne entry.
Territorian Thomas Maxwell finished his first proper day of competition at Hidden Valley in seventh position, just 0.5 seconds behind the fastest time of the day.
After a challenging start to his season, Steve Richards was a strong eighth overall while young-gun Cooper Murray was ninth on his first run with new team, McElrea Racing.
Flack was fastest of the TAG Heuer Pro-Am bunch and tenth outright.
Remarkably, the Queenslander was only 0.7 seconds away from the fastest time of the day; 14 cars lapping within 1 second of Wood’s best at a circuit renowned for remarkably close margins between competitors.
Roger Lago was second in TAG Heuer Pro-Am while Dean Cook and Anthony Gilbertson were next.
Saturday will be a crucial day in the context of the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia Championship, with a 35-lap enduro cup race to follow qualifying in a busy day at the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown.
Last year, David Wall scored pole position ahead of Nick McBride before going on to win the first race of the weekend the same day.
However, a dramatic weekend saw three different drivers win the three races with a fourth, young-gun Dylan O’Keeffe, going on to win the round without actually winning a race.
The 20-minute qualifying session starts at 11:35am local time on Saturday, with the 35-lap Enduro Cup race commencing at 2:45pm.
Combined Results – Practice, Round 4 – Hidden Valley
1 Dale Wood (VIC) Pro 1:07.4912
2 Jordan Love (WA) Pro 0:00.2035
3 David Wall (NSW) Pro 0:00.2779
4 Michael Almond (SA) Pro 0:00.3586
5 Cameron Hill (ACT) Pro 0:00.3964
6 Nick McBride (VIC) Pro 0:00.4976
7 Thomas Maxwell (NT) Pro 0:00.5018
8 Steve Richards (VIC) Pro 0:00.6068
9 Cooper Murray (VIC) Pro 0:00.7209
10 Adrian Flack (QLD) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:00.7246
11 Duvashen Padayachee NSW Pro 0:00.7919
12 Warren Luff (QLD) Pro 0:00.7956
13 Roger Lago (QLD) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:00.8228
14 Dean Cook (VIC) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:00.9224
15 Anthony Gilbertson (QLD) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:01.1476
16 Tim Miles (NSW) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:01.1536
17 Sam Shahin (SA) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:01.2556
18 Liam Talbot (NSW) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:01.4074
19 Scott Taylor (QLD) TAG Heuer Pro-Am 0:03.0830