Aaron Love led the field as the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia took to Mount Panorama ahead of this week’s double round, with competitors challenged by passing showers on the 6.2km long circuit.
Geoff Emery topped the Morris Finance Pro-Am runners as the field heads into the final three rounds of racing this year.
After starting the 40-minute session under threatening skies, light rain with 15 minutes left cooled the track, with lap times subsequently tumbling in the closing moments of the session.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Love, who topped both the Mobil Pro class and Michelin Juniors, with a near-miss with the wall opposite the John Hinxman Vista followed by a tour across the escape road at Skyline.
“It was quite a positive session, we made some headroom with the car,” said Love.
“Obviously, it’s pretty nice to have that knowledge that we’ve got the pace early on in the session on a used tyre, then again at the end of the session with the new tyre.”
According to Love, the precipitation throughout the run just added to the excitement of the challenging course.
“It created a little bit of interesting viewing for all of the spectators at the top of the Mountain,” Love continued.
“At the start of the session, there was a little bit of sprinkling rain down at turn one, but the track was warm enough to evaporate it before it made too much of a difference.
“Towards the middle of the session, it was a little bit wet up the top, there was a little bit of car control practice, but it was all good fun.”
Second fastest for the day was David Wall, one of four drivers on double duty this weekend in the Bathurst 1000, and the pole sitter when the championship last visited The Mountain in 2019.
Like Love, Wall had his own anxious moments on track, with one under braking at Murray’s Corner almost resulting in contact with Cooper Murray.
Cameron Hill set the third-fastest time ahead of Harri Jones, and Bathurst 1000 campaigners David Russell and Dale Wood.
Wood was another to push the limits and dropped off the road briefly at the Chase, a move mirrored by Dean Cook.
Rounding out the top ten were Kiwi young gun Matthew Payne, the returning Max Vidau, who is subbing for Luke Youlden, Murray and Simon Fallon.
Other notable runners included Craig Lowndes in 12th, and debutant Callum Hedge in 16th.
Geoff Emery led the Morris Finance Pro-Am classification, ahead of Tim Miles, Sam Shahin, and Ben Stack.
For Emery, the wet weather was an added curve ball in becoming familiar with the car on the demanding circuit.
“I’m happy with it, the car needs a little bit of work, and so do I, so there is a bit more to go in that,” said Emery.
“Look, there were a few sprinkles around the track, and it beats the confidence around a little bit, but once you’ve got some temp in the tyres, it sort of hangs on past that, and it wasn’t wet enough to affect the session, luckily.
“It’s my first time around here in a Porsche Carrera Cup Car, so I’m pretty happy with P1 in Pro-Am.”
Qualifying is set for 11:20am tomorrow, with a unique format determining the starting grid for the separate rounds.
While the fastest time will start on pole for tomorrow afternoon’s opening race of round four, the second-fastest lap set by competitors will determine the starting order for race one of round five of the 2021 season, which is set for Saturday afternoon.
Tomorrow’s on track action will be shown live on Fox Sport and Kayo throughout Australia.