Canberra racer James Koundouris has become the first Elite Class driver to secure outright pole position in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship when he and co-driver Steve Owen posted the quickest combined time at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival round featured a unique qualifying format, with separate sessions held for the Professional Class and Elite Class drivers. Qualifying times were then determined by combining each driver pairing’s fastest time from both sessions.
V8 Supercars regular Alex Davison posted the top time in the Professional Class session from Owen, who was only 0.0029s behind in second, ahead of Jonny Reid, Steven Richards, Tim Slade, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia points leader Earl Bamber, Warren Luff, Michael Patrizi, Nick Percat, V8 racer David Wall and title leader Craig Baird in 11th.
The Elite Class drivers then took to the track, with Aussie Racing Cars heavyweight Adam Gowans posting the fastest time from Koundouris, Max Twigg, Geoff Emery, Troy Bayliss, John Goodacre, Tony Bates, Shane Smollen, Theo Koundouris, Rodney Jane and John Penny in 11th.
Koundouris and Owen’s combined time was the quickest, therefore placing them on pole position for Sunday’s Race 1. Starting in second position will be the pairing of Shae Davies/Gowans from Bates/Davison, Luff/Emery, Patrizi/Bayliss, Richards/Theo Koundouris, Twigg/Luke Youlden, Matt Kingsley/Goodacre, Michael Loccisano/Reid and Percat/Jane in 10th.
Koundouris was ecstatic with the pole position, becoming the first ever Elite Class driver to claim top outright qualifying honours.
“Obviously to gain a Carrera Cup pole position is fantastic. The most satisfying thing is that we only did two flying laps each so we’ve got a good bank of tyres for tomorrow,” said Koundouris.
“I think Pro-Am events are the way of the future as this format has several advantages: Firstly, and most importantly, it creates interest in the category. You’ve got the best Pro drivers and the best Elite drivers in the one event and that will create interest in Carrera Cup. The Rennsport event is also a great marketing tool for Porsche. It only takes one look at the people here this weekend to recognise that.”
Owen was also pleased with his pairing’s impressive qualifying pace.
“We knew that it was going to be tough in the Professional Class session; times were always going to be close, so to be 0.0029s off the quickest time in the Professional session in my first Carrera Cup event was good, and then James drove as well as I’ve ever seen him drive, being the quickest of all the regular Elite drivers. It all just came together,” said Owen.
“These cars are awesome to drive and they’re all the same, so you know that you’re always in the best car, unlike some other categories. In this format, there are probably about 10 pairings that could win. The racing will be very close.”
The Porsche championship will now hold two 60-minute co-driver races on Sunday, with each driver pairing required to complete their driver change between the 25-minute and 35-minute mark of each race.
To watch Sunday’s two Porsche Carrera Cup Australia races live, along with all the on-track racing from the Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival, visit www.rennsportlive.com.au to view the live stream.