AARON LOVE has picked up where he left off as the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship returns to Sandown, setting a new circuit record to top practice ahead of Round 6 this weekend.
Love, who dominated the recent round at The Bend Motorsport Park, set the fastest ever Carrera Cup lap of Sandown to head the practice order beneath sunny skies at the suburban Melbourne circuit.
His 1m09.0667s flyer was 0.2 seconds quicker than the previous qualifying record at the circuit.
Adrian Flack topped the Morris Pro-Am leaderboard across the pair of 25-minute sessions, however an accident towards the end of the second session damaged his Agas National entry.
Love’s Friday pace was impressive and will impact the remainder of the weekend – the fastest driver on Friday the first to hit the track during the 10-minute qualifying session tomorrow morning.
While Love was 0.2 seconds clear of the Carrera Cup field, the next 19 cars were covered by exactly one second in a typically intense day of practice.
TekworkX Motorsport’s Max Vidau was second aboard his Tyrepower entry while championship contender David Wall was third.
Christian Pancione was fourth while Dylan O’Keeffe – who sits third in the championship and had earlier topped practice one – was fifth and Ryan Suhle sixth, making it six different teams in the top six on the combined practice times.
Vidau’s teammate Luke Youlden, Duvashen Padayachee, Callum Hedge and Jackson Walls completed the top-10 runners – the latter just 0.5s behind Love’s session best.
In his 50th championship round, David Russell was 13th while championship leader Harri Jones was only 14th; 0.8 seconds from the quickest time.
Flack’s best lap in Morris Pro-Am came on his final flyer in practice two, his 1m10.0467s best putting him within one second of the quickest time overall.
He topped Liam Talbot for class bragging rights, the Wash It / Paynter Dixon Wall Racing driver rolling out in a brand-new chassis this weekend having been ousted from the final race at The Bend in a nasty rollover.
Sam Shahin and Dean Cook were next among the Pro-Am contenders, while three-time Sandown winner Stephen Grove was fifth. Geoff Emery topped practice one earlier on Friday amidst a remarkably competitive title battle that has seen a different points leader following every round to date this year.
The 31-car field returns tomorrow for a pair of 10-minute qualifying sessions, one each for Morris Pro-Am and then the Pro class runners.
The first race of the sixth round will commence later on Saturday afternoon with all sessions to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sport.
Aaron Love, fastest Pro
“It’s obviously nice to know what we’ve got underneath ourselves going into qualifying, so really happy with that.
“I think a couple cars ran new tyres, whereas we didn’t, so there’s that to add onto it so happy with that. We’ve just got to see what comes tomorrow with the rain, it might flip everything upside down.
“It’s nice to know what we’ve got though, the car is really good to drive and we can push on to tomorrow. With the split qualifying, we won’t have a lot of time, we only really have the one opportunity, it’ll be about getting the tyres up to temperature as it will be cold in the morning, then it’s just about making no mistakes, as you only have one real shot at it.”
Adrian Flack, fastest Morris Pro Am
“I was having a lot of fun in that session, obviously after practice 1 you can try different things, but it was good fun.
“With ten minutes for qualifying, there is not much time, you’ve got to just keep building up to it and who ever puts the right lap together at the end, will get pole at the end of the day.
“Unfortunately the car went into the barrier on the last lap, so it might be a radiator and a few bits and pieces, but it wasn’t that hard, it just in an awkward spot.”