Shane van Gisbergen will be thanking teammate Broc Feeney for an incredible Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying, the youngster putting the Triple Eight Mercedes AMG on the front row come tomorrow morning’s race start race start.
Whilst many would have expected the Supercars champion or teammate veteran racer Maximilian Gotz to take the wheel for the Top 10 Shootout, it was Feeney instead who was given the wheel.
The 20-year-old proved his worth and them some, missing top spot by only .216 of a second, eclipsed only by Mercedes factory driver Maro Engel who shattered the lap record he set earlier that day to do so.
Engel’s run was the first time the 2min 01sec barrier has been eclipsed in Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying, giving the #999 GruppeM driver his second Allan Simonsen Trophy.
With a daunting enduro ahead, van Gisbergen and co will be forced to battle a heap of world-class GT racers, including local hope Matt Campbell who powered to third.
A range of other Kiwis are also included in the field, including Richie Stanaway who is partnering with Prince Jefri Ibrahim and Jamie Whincup in a Boost Mobile Racing Pro-Am entry.
Pro-Am qualifying takes into account a Pro time and combines it with an Am time to determine the grid.
Stanaway took to the track in the Pro session for the team, setting the second fastest time in class and finishing ninth overall out of 34 drivers. Ibrahim was left with the Am drive, setting the fourth fastest time.
The result of this sees the team start third in class, the Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 of Chaz Mostert, Fraser Ross and Liam Talbot starting from the front with the FUCHS Lubricants Racing Audi R8 of local Brad Schumacher, James Golding and Frédéric Vervisch second in class.
Class A Silver class follows a similar format to Pro-Am, Kiwis Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Fawcett are partnering Dylan O’Keeffe in the MYLAND Audi R8 in this class.
O’Keefe was immense in Am qualifying, topping the charts by over half a second, leaving Gaunt to take the reigns in the Pro session.
Competing against the likes of Tony D’Alberto was always going to be a tough ask, the Kiwi only managing the fifth fastest time. They’ll still start third in class, only behind the Valmont Racing Mercedes AMG of Marcel Zalloua, Sergio Pires, Duvashen Padayachee and Aaron Cameron and the Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan of D’Alberto, David Wall, Grant Denyer and Adrian Deitz.
All in all, qualifying results see Kiwis starting in the front three of all three classes.
For van Gisbergen, victory or a solid result here will start his 2023 off perfectly as he seeks to replicate his incredible successes of 2022 which included the Supercars Championship, Bathurst 1000 victory and a WRC2 podium.
Racing begins pre-dawn in Australia (7.45am New Zealand time) and is live on Sky Sport Pop Up 1 (600).