DYLAN O’KEEFFE and Geoff Emery have topped their respective classes in an intense day of practice as the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia returned to Winton Motor Raceway, in country Victoria.
Visiting for the first time since 2013, the 31-car Carrera Cup field posted remarkably close and competitive times across a pair of 25-minute sessions that set the tone for an intense weekend ahead.
While O’Keeffe topped the Pro class, Emery was fastest overall in the equally competitive Morris Finance Pro-Am battle.
The pair of sessions were held in cool but bright and sunny conditions, teams spending the day learning the conditions ahead of a pair of important 10-minute qualifying sessions – one each for Pro and Pro-Am competitors – tomorrow.
O’Keeffe’s 1m20.1090s flyer was set late in the second practice session and was a full 3.3 seconds quicker than Craig Baird’s existing Winton qualifying record, set way back in 2007.
The Dexion / RAM Motorsport driver ended the day just 0.1 seconds quicker than practice one pacesetter, Callum Hedge.
“It was very tricky out there with all the cars, I didn’t think I would get any lap in,” O’Keeffe said.
“At the start, we caught the Pro Am’s very quickly and didn’t get a lap in. I was stressing a little but at the end there trying to get a lap in, but I had one clean go at it and managed to put it together, that said it was a pretty scruffy lap.
“These 992’s are very tricky around this circuit with oversteer compared to the previous generation and some of the other cars I’ve driven around here. But I like working the car a little bit and they say a loose car is a fast car.”
The young Kiwi had topped practice one in his Earl Bamber Motorsport Porsche and had led the way for much of the second session before O’Keeffe’s late flyer saw him jump to the top.
Duvashen Padayachee was third fastest overall, completing a strong day for the GWR Australia-run cars, while former series champion David Wall was fourth.
Simon Fallon was best of the Sonic Motor Racing entries in fifth aboard his Bob Jane T-Marts car, while Dale Wood’s Timken EBM entry was sixth.
Championship leader Max Vidau jumped to seventh on his penultimate flyer in practice for TekworkX Motorsport, while Harri Jones was eighth and best of the McElrea Racing stable.
David Russell and Nick McBride completed a competitive top-10 with eight different teams represented in the bunch.
The competitive nature of the field was clear to see with a remarkable 0.9 seconds covering the top eighteen cars and two seconds covering 24.
Emery topped the Morris Finance Pro-Am field with him 1m21.0465s best less than a second from the fastest time overall.
“It was an interesting session I struggled a bit at the start, but we set new Michelins on it and got a good result in the end,” Emery said.
“The car is really good to drive now, we tuned her up after the first session and took some of the oversteer out of it and its really good to drive. You had to manage the traffic, you have to roll out of it when you have to and press on because there’s only a second between the front and the back, once I got on with it, the traffic wasn’t too bad.”
Victorian Matt Belford was second in Pro-Am while Dean Cook was third – just ahead of the returning Adrian Flack and class champion, Sam Shahin.
The field returns to the circuit tomorrow for qualifying at 10:05am, the Pro-Am field to qualify first before the Pro’s hit the track.
The field then regroups for the first of three races this weekend at 2:25pm local time.
Both sessions will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports.