DUBBED ‘the beast’ by their nearest rivals, Sherrin Racing’s brand-new BMW M4 has smashed the Production Car lap record at Mount Panorama to claim pole for Sunday’s Bathurst 6 Hour.
A flying lap from Grant Sherrin early in the half-hour session for the fastest 50 percent of the field this afternoon saw the latest BMW weapon storm to the top spot with a flying two minutes, 25.487 seconds lap.
A similarly quick lap from Luke Searle saw him put the Roadchill Express BMW M135i second, missing pole by just 0.44 seconds.
Andrew Richmond and Karl Reindler will start third in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X RS after a remarkable half-hour session that saw them borrow components from their teammates just to make the track.
However, it was Sherrin’s stunner at the start of the session that will stand as the new Bathurst 6 Hour benchmark.
“It was a pretty good lap! I had a bit of traffic coming through turn one and two but we got clear track over the top,” Grant Sherrin said.
“The car speaks for itself – it’s doing a great job and it’s going really well - The team has done a great job to get it here to where it is, and the way it handles, it’s really good.”
Iain Sherrin said they were content that the still-new car would be capable for the six-hour distance on Sunday.
“We think the car will be good over six hours. It felt a lot nicer across the top after qualifying and I think we are okay,” he said.
“We just want to get on the start line and go from there. It’s about being there at the end. It’s never done that kind of distance before, so it’s unproven, but we’ve had some experience with BMWs over the years and we know what to look for.
“We think we have most of the bugs out that stop the cars so it should be good.”
Searle’s stunner saw him bank just the one flyer before pitting his Roadchill BMW for the remainder of the session.
“It’s a bit of a surprise – I wasn’t expecting that!” he said.
“We have no top end speed, we’re one of the slowest through the speed traps and I had to make it all across the top of the mountain so I just hung on and kept the boot into it and we ended up with a 25.9 which is way under the lap record … Godzilla beat it but we’re almost there.
“I’m still shaking over that lap and you know when you get the most out of that car – we knew there was nothing more in it. If you beat a 25.9 in a Production Car around here then they can have it!
“[The M4] It’s a beast and an awesome bit of car. We don’t have the legs for it but we’re pushing like hell. They might have some problems and I hope we can beat them fair and square.”
Searle will team with Paul Morris and Barry Graham on Sunday, and he said he’s particularly keen to help one of his teammates to a notable piece of Bathurst history.
“I want to get a good result for Paul – he’s won the Bathurst 1000 and the 12 Hour and if he wins the 6 Hour he’ll be the first to win all three. Of course I want to win, but it would be good for someone like him to win the three.”
The biggest dramas occurred at leading Mitsubishi Lancer outfit CXC Global Racing, which had to share one driveshaft between their two leading cars in an effort to make the grid.
With the Andrew Richmond / Karl Reindler entry breaking an axle in practice yesterday – and the late arrival of the spares to the circuit today – the team elected to swap components from the Tim Slade / Dylan Thomas entry mid-session.
Slade banked a flyer early, sitting third before being shuffled down the order to sixth by the end of the 30 minutes.
The team then removed the axle in parc ferme’, fitted it to the Richmond / Reindler car in the garage – allowing them to take to the track with 15 minutes left in the session.
Reindler then set two stunning laps to put the #46 car third on the grid – just 0.6 from pole and beating their generous teammates in the process.
Reindler relished the challenge to qualify the car, though was thankful to his generous team-mates at the same time.
“We like a challenge,” he said.
“They were tough conditions. Huge props to Sladey and the guys for letting it happen. I don’t think Sladey’s too happy – understandably - for pipping him. I wouldn’t be happy if I was him! It was a really selfless act from them.”
Rod Salmon and Nathan Antunes will start their Mercedes A45 AMG fourth, while Ryan Simpson dragged the Mitsubishi Lancer he’ll share with Jim Pollicina to fifth at the end of qualifying.
Meanwhile, the Brett McFarland-Nikkolas Hough Subaru Impreza was the quickest qualifier of the three Bathurst chances.
The will start Sunday’s race in position 27 after a 2:33.690 effort. The duo made the top 50 percent qualifying session, with their final effort the fourth best in their B1 Class.
Brothers Blake and Kyle Aubin are set to go from 41st after clocking a 2:39.987 in the first qualifying session. Their Renault Megane was the fourth quickest of the Class C qualifiers.
Matt Windsor and David Baker, who were late entrants in their Honda Integra, recorded a best qualifying lap time of 2:43.990. It was the sixth best effort in Class D and will see them go from 52nd on the grid.
Class A2 (Extreme Performance Normally Aspirated) was headed by Symonds / Lane / Bargwanna HSV Commodore, while Jack Perkins and Leigh Burgess took pole in the B1 class and B2 was headed by the Krinelos / Virag / Loscialpo Holden VF SS Redline.
Todd Hazelwood and Rob Rubis stormed to pole in Class C with a lap some three seconds faster than the previous class record, while Jimmy Vernon and Mark Caine took the top spot in Class D.
The Cowham / Kearns Ford Falcon grabbed the top spot in Invitational class and 35th outright.
Sunday’s race starts at 11.30am.