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May 22, 2015

SURPRISES TOP PRACTICE AT PHILLIP ISLAND

A SURPRISE packet has topped the charts in practice for the Australian GT 101 at Phillip Island, as round two of the Shannons Nationals got underway today in cool conditions.

The V8-powered Ginetta G55 GT3 driven by Matt Campbell and Michael Hovey topped a monster 35-car field across the three practice sessions, just 0.01s quicker than the Porsche GT3 driven by James Koundouris and Marcus Marshall.

Andrew Taplin was third in his Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in a day where getting a clear lap was the number one challenge.

Campbell is one of several in the GT field doing double duties with the Porsche Carrera Cup ProAm this weekend, the talented Queenslander timing fifth in his Porsche session.

Wet conditions greeted competitors for practice one, topped by the Koundouris / Marshall Porsche, but quickly dried to allow for some more serious dry running.

The starting field, pending any further issues in qualifying tomorrow morning, looks to be 34-cars following a hefty crash by Dale Patterson in the final practice session – the damage forcing his team to withdraw the Chevrolet Camaro that he shares with Steven Richards.

The 101-lap Phillip Island enduro has quickly become one of the must-win GT races in Australia and was won in dramatic circumstances last year by Garth Tander and Tony Quinn, driving an Aston Martin.

The defending champions – now in a McLaren 650s – were third fastest in the second practice session today.

The GT field will practice tomorrow ahead of the 101-lap race later in the afternoon.

There were hot times in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia ProAm field – despite the freezing conditions on track today.

A flying 1m30.64s by V8 Supercars regular Tim Slade saw his Porsche 991 GT3 – co-driven this weekend by regular driver Adrian Mastronado – top the charts ahead of some of his regular racing rivals.

Nick Percat set the second fastest time of the day in Shane Smollen’s Porsche with Scott McLaughlin third in Stephen Grove’s entry.

First of the regular Carrera Cup drivers was David Russell, in fourth, while Dylan Thomas was quickest of the guest co-drivers this weekend thanks to the fastest time in the first session for Carrera Challenge (semi-pro) drivers only.

The re-built HSV GTS of Jim Pollicina and Dean Lillie topped the official Australian Manufacturers Championship practice session this afternoon as the favoured Mitsubishi Lancer EVO crashed heavily.

The 6.2-litre V8 HSV was a full 1.2 seconds quicker than Beric Lynton and Matt Mackelden’s BMW 1M, father and son combo Robert and Shane Marshall third in their Mitsubishi.

Bob Pearson crashed his ProDuct Mitsubishi when taking evasive action on a slower-moving car during practice three earlier in the day. The car made hefty contact with the wall – but is expected to be repaired in time for qualifying tomorrow.

Grant and Iain Sherrin were fourth overall with Jake Camilleri and Scott Nicholas fifth in their Mazda 3 MPS.

William Brown’s Mygale topped an incredibly competitive Australian Formula Ford series official practice session this afternoon – but with the top 11 cars covered by just 1.1 seconds the racing looks to be particularly competitive this weekend.

Brown was just 0.0148s quicker than Christian Morina, with Jake Spencer, Cameron Hill and Thomas Maxwell rounding out the top five.

Leanne Tander was 11th on her official Formula Ford return, just 1.1 seconds off the pace in her ‘new’ Mygale SJ10a chassis.

The 18-car Formula Ford field will qualify and hold their first race tomorrow.

After battling for the outright honours in the opening round of the Australian Formula 3 Championship, Jon Collins and Ricky Capo look set to renew their rivalry in this weekend’s secon round of the wings-and-slicks championship – their pair keeping close company today in practice.

Collins 1m26.19s lap in practice three headed Capo’s best by 0.4s, with Trent Shirvington third in his Mygale. Like Formula Ford, F3 qualifies and races tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s live streaming coverage commences at 12:00pm, just before the first race of the weekend. The stream can be accessed for free via www.thenationals.com.au or the MotorsportsTV app for iPhone or Android platforms.