BATTLE-HARDENED from a year in Europe, Harri Jones has returned to the championship he won last year and delivered an emphatic ‘I’m back’ to the rest of the field, scoring the TAG Heuer pole award at Mount Panorama in style today.
Jones’ punched out a 2m04.6672s flyer on his sixth of nine laps in a pulsating qualifying session to score his third career pole and set the quickest ever lap of Mount Panorama in a Porsche GT3 Cup Car in the process.
RESULTS: Qualifying, Mount Panorama
Jones’ edged out his Porsche supercup teammate Harry King by 0.2 seconds to snare the top spot in the first of two rounds he’ll contest this year for his own Jones Motorsport stable.
It was his first pole since the Bathurst round in 2021, Jones’ going through his 2022 title-winning season without having scored a TAG Heuer Pole Award.
King was impressive on his Mount Panorama debut, qualifying on the front row in his EMA Motorsport entry.
It’s the best Carrera Cup qualifying performance for the team and puts the three-time Supercup race winner alongside his European teammate for tomorrow’s first race.
Max Vidau was best of the series’ regulars in third for TekworkX Motorsport, surviving a brush with the wall at Reid Park to jump into the top three at the very end of the session.
Vidau had earlier topped the sole, 50-mintue practice session earlier in the weekend.
The top three cars all lapped beneath Aaron Love’s 2022 Carrera Cup qualifying record, while Jones and King were the only two to dip into the 2m04-second window.
Sandown winner Dylan O’Keeffe qualified fourth to continue his strong run of recent form aboard his Dexion / GWR Australia entry.
Another Bathurst ring-in, Kiwi Chris van der Drift, qualified fifth as he deputises for championship leader Callum Hedge while he chases racing success in the United States.
The three-time Asian champion was strong from the outset and jumped into the top five on his fifth qualifying flyer.
Nick McBride was a strong sixth for Hallmarc / Team MPC, mirroring Vidau’s effort to jump up the order on his final flyer.
Fabian Coulthard’s BWT entry from Porsche Centre Melbourne made it seven different teams in the top seven, while Dale Wood, David Russell and Thomas Maxwell completed the top-10 and the first group of Equity-One Pro class runners.
In the SP Tools Pro-Am Class, another part-timer topped the charts as Liam Talbot grabbed the top spot as he continues to deputise for Luke King in the Moutai entry from Wall Racing.
Talbot’s 2m07.5001 flyer was a stunning lap and saw him a considerable margin ahead of the next Pro-Am runner in Adrian Flack.
Championship leader Sam Shahin was third in his repaired The Bend Motorsport Park car while Dean Cook and Rodney Jane – both title contenders in Carrera Cup’s ‘race within a race’ were next.
Thursday’s 20-minute qualifying session ran without incident with most electing to run a single set of Michelin tyres ahead of tomorrow’s 15-lap Endurance Cup race.
That race starts at 2:20pm, and will be shown live on Fox Sports, Kayo, Sky Sport NZ and Channel 7 on free-to-air in Australia.
“It’s really good to be back here at Bathurst, it’s my favourite track in the world. Pole position, the first time for the team in Carrera Cup – it felt incredible.
“What a day, what an event, what a lap – bring on tomorrow.
“It’s certainly special. I’ve been in Europe all year and heard about all the hard work the guys back home have been putting in, but to come back and see it pay off first time out is really special. This one is for them and hopefully there’s a few more to come as well.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow – I’ve got my teammate from Europe Harry King on the front row with me. We’ve had some great battles this year and looking forward to some more this weekend.”
“Any lap you get here is special, a couple of laps before I had to find a little bit of time, some tenths, and then the dash was up a second and I thought ‘we’re on here’.
“The car just kept getting better and better and I was building confidence, while still keeping some margin. There’s more time to be found.
“The car just feels so good and I can’t wait to go racing. I don’t want anyone to pinch me in case I’m dreaming!”