A DAY OF contrast has seen David Wall go from a hefty practice crash to ultimately securing pole for Round 7 of the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia championship today at Mount Panorama, while Liam Talbot grabbed pole in TAG Heuer Pro-Am.
Wall, a former series champion and one of the most successful Carrera Cup drivers at Mount Panorama, topped a thrilling 30-minute session that came down to the wire with drivers completing their best laps well after the chequered flag had dropped,
Wall’s 2m06.4306s flyer secured him his second Bathurst pole and the eighth of his career – and even more importantly placed him well in front of his two closest title rivals.
Perhaps more impressive was the fact that he ended practice earlier in the day on top of the times – but also in the fence at the top of the Mountain.
A lurid slide at McPhillamy Park saw him off the road and into the tyres late in the session, with the team completing a not insignificant repair job in the five-hour period between practice and qualifying.
Nick McBride was one of the last to complete his flying lap but jumped to second at the very end of the session, displacing Cooper Murray from the front row.
Jordan Love survived a wild moment at McPhillamy Park on his penultimate lap to qualify fourth while championship leader Dale Wood was seventh as the title battle builds in the penultimate round.
“I made my number one (Mechanic) work for it! It’s that point in the championship where we’re leaving nothing on the table and I probably stepped off it there,” Wall said.
“I did everything I possibly could to be P1 there and thankfully it was enough today. It’s a double pole for Wall Racing with Liam on top in Pole Position – credit to everyone at Wall Racing. The hard work has paid off.
“Last year we qualified fifth and won the first race; the field is so close so anyone in the top six can win. It’s Bathurst and everything can happen.”
The 30-minute qualifying session built and built across its duration with Wall amongst the early pacesetters.
A switch to a second set of brand-new Michelin Tyres saw times begin to tumble in the final five minutes, with most of the key positions changing hands with each lap.
The top 12 drivers in the session set their best lap on their second-last or final flyers with the top eight ultimately covered by just 0.60 seconds on the longest lap of the season.
Love’s wild moment saw him off the road but able to recover after a near-miss with the wall, while Cameron Hill wad fourth momentarily, before Love’s final flyer bumped him back to the third row of the grid.
There was relief from the O’Brien Racing camp as former champion Steven Richards qualified sixth – his best result of the season by a full six grid positions.
The five-time Bathurst champ was the last driver on a hot lap and moved to sixth from the bottom of the top-10 right at the end of the session.
Michael Almond (Eighth), Thomas Maxwell (Ninth) and TAG Heuer Pro-Am polesitter Talbot completed the -10.
He and Adrian Flack had their own battle for the class pole, Talbot coming out on top to record his second-straight pole award this season.
“Unbelievable! Wasn’t sure what was going to happen because you never know in these sessions. We put our best foot forward and got the setup right,” Talbot said.
“The team worked really hard behind the scenes, so it’s good that as a team we got the double pole positions.”
Flack will line up one position behind his title rival while Stephen Grove was third of the Pro-Am runners. Defending Bathurst round winner Tim Miles was fourth in class while championship leader Roger Lago was fifth.
Like Wall, Lago’s team was forced to repair his car after a hefty incident at the entrance to the dipper that brought out the red flag in practice earlier in the day.
His car lightly clipped the wall on drivers’ right before making more substantial contact with the barriers in the dipper on both sides of the car – though also like Wall, the damage was able to be repaired in time.
With the grid set, the field switches to endurance mode on Friday with the 16-lap enduro cup race to commence at 1:40pm local time.
Two further races, one each on Saturday and Sunday, complete the penultimate round of the 2019 series.