Familiar names have topped the charts during a competitive day of practice as the 2020 Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia Championship burst into life on the streets of Adelaide today.
Porsche Michelin Junior Cooper Murray topped the combined practice order at the Superloop Adelaide 500 for McElrea Racing, while three-time class champion Stephen Grove was on point in Pro-Am.
Murray, who also topped both the Michelin Juniors and the Mobil Pro class, was third-fastest in the opening 20-minute hit-out of the 2020 championship on Thursday morning but improved later in the afternoon to bank a 1m21.4641s best to claim the fastest time of the day.
His flyer, set late in the second session, was only 0.2 seconds slower than the Adelaide qualifying record and sets the scene for a highly competitive weekend ahead.
The 18-year-old junior star was a standout performer at the end of the 2019 season, scoring back-to-back podiums in the final two rounds of the year before picking up where he left off today.
“It was a good way to start the weekend and a real positive going in to qualifying tomorrow,” Murray said.
“The pace was good all day and we’ve just got to convert it tomorrow and do the same thing.
“Tomorrow morning there’s a real chance to beat the record, the track should be good.”
Defending Adelaide 500 round winner, Nick McBride, was second overall to continue his strong run of form on the streets of Adelaide – having won all three races and the event twelve months ago.
The only driver to win multiple rounds on the Adelaide streets since 2008, McBride finished the day less than 0.4 seconds behind Murray.
Third overall was former champion David Wall, who finished the pair of 20-minute sessions 0.50s behind Murray’s best. Wall, who won the final round of the 2019 championship, scored pole in Adelaide last year.
Reigning Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge champion Harri Jones – making his Adelaide 500 debut this weekend – was an impressive fourth on debut in the second McElrea Racing entry in the top four.
Having won the feeder category to Carrera Cup last year, Jones had a taste-test of the big time on the streets of the Gold Coast last October – but impressed in his first proper outing as a full-timer in the top series today.
He just edged out Cameron Hill, who was fifth overall, and Dale Wood in sixth in the final order.
The unofficial ‘Team South Australia’ crew of Sonic Motor Racing duo of Michael Almond and Max Vidau were seventh and eighth, respectively – both racing in front of their home fans this weekend in the pair of bright yellow Bob Jane T-Marts supported entries.
The returning David Russell was ninth in the Dayco-supported entry he’ll share with Roger Lago this year, while Duvashen Padayachee completed the top-10 in his Hyundai Forklifts entry.
Indicating the competitive potential of the 2020 grid, seven outfits made it into the combined top-10 across both sessions.
A pair of triple Pro-Am class champions led the way in their Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia ‘Race within a Race’, Stephen Grove edging out Max Twigg by just 0.2 seconds today.
Fresh from his fifth class victory in the recent Bathurst 12-Hour, Grove was instantly on the money in his Grove Racing Cup Car today as he looks to win his second Adelaide Pro-Am round this weekend.
“The track was so much better in the second session so we could push a little bit more,” Grove said.
“I’m pretty happy with where we are, it was a pretty good effort.
“Any time in the car is a good time! I’m missing all the extra buttons that I had (At Bathurst in the GT3R)! But seat time is everything and I had a couple of good stints at Bathurst so that should see me in a good place.
“I think if it’s a bit overcast tomorrow we’re going to see times these cars have never done here before.”
Fellow triple champion Twigg’s return started well with second in Pro-Am, while Dean Cook was only fractionally behind the pair in third position. Tim Miles and Marc Cini were next, however the former had to survive a brush with the wall at turn eight to do it.
A slide in practice one saw the right-rear corner of Miles’ McElrea Porsche contact the fence at high speed, necessitating a quick repair effort from the team prior to the second session.
He wasn’t the only one to find the notorious bit of concrete: Michelin Junior Joey Mawson also caught out by the high-speed corner in practice two, his car parked for the remainder of the session.
The Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia championship switches to qualifying mode on Friday morning ahead of the first race of the weekend on Friday afternoon. Both sessions will be shown live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports, while Saturday and Sunday’s races will be also be broadcast on Channel 10.
RESULTS > Carreracup.com.au/results
Race Schedule – Round 1, Superloop Adelaide 500
FRIDAY FEB 21
11:10 – 11:30 Qualifying FoxSports / Kayo
15:40 – 16:10 Race 1 FoxSports / Kayo
SATURDAY FEB 22
13:30 – 13:50 Race 2 FoxSports / Kayo / Channel 10
SUNDAY FEB 23
11:10 – 11:30 Race 3 FoxSports / Kayo / Channel 10