Baird on the pace at Bathurst

Twenty-year-old sports car ace Matt Campbell has set unprecedented pace at Mount Panorama in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia practice, while Shane Smollen topped the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge time sheets in both sessions.

Campbell has been one of the standout performers of the last few rounds, taking his maiden Carrera Cup win at Sydney Motorsport Park in August.

The Queenslander, who competed at the Bathurst 12 Hour earlier in the year, posted the fastest time ever around the 6.213km circuit in a Carrera Cup car (2:08.5722) and is confident of reduced lap times for Friday morning’s qualifying session.

“To be fastest in both practice sessions is a great start to the weekend, but tomorrow is where it really starts to count,” said Campbell.

“After the first session we knew today’s lap times were going to be fast. We made a small adjustment between sessions and went even quicker in the second session. We should reduce our lap time further with new tyres tomorrow morning in qualifying.”

Craig Baird was the second fastest driver of the day from David Russell, championship leader Nick Foster, reigning champion Steven Richards and Duvashen Padayachee in sixth.

In a great day for McElrea Racing, Campbell’s teammate, Smollen, was the fastest TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge driver from Tony Bates, James Bergmuller, Marc Cini, Ash Samadi and Scott Taylor, who was sixth quickest in class.

“I’m not overdriving the car to get those times,” said Smollen. “I’m feeling confident with the car and it’s well set up; it was a good day of practice and we’ve got to continue this form into tomorrow. Clearly the main priority this weekend is accruing points for the championship, and this track can certainly bite, so I’m looking for consistency rather than wringing the last few tenths out of the car.”

Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will continue its 11th visit to Bathurst on Friday, with qualifying to be held at 7:55am. The championship is yet to have a repeat pole-sitter this season, with experienced racers Richards and Baird still yet to top a qualifying session in 2015.

The championship’s opening race will be held on Friday at 2:15pm with the final two races of the weekend to be held across Saturday and Sunday

Combined Practice times
1. #7 Matt Campbell (Professional) Phase 8/Nuveau Constructions – 2:08.5722R
2. #8 Craig Baird (Professional) Windsor Smith – 2:08.6545s
3. #10 David Russell (Professional) Finance Ezi – 2:09.1337s
4. #777 Nick Foster (Professional) Bob Jane T-Marts – 2:09.1959s
5. #1 Steven Richards (Professional) Laser Plumbing & Electrical – 2:09.9104s
6. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Professional) Darrell Lea STIX – 2:09.9590s
7. #22 Richard Muscat (Professional) Wilson Security / PAYCE / Genis Steel – 2:10.0917s
8. #77 Nick McBride (Professional) Bob Jane T-Marts – 2:10.1426s
9. #26 Michael Almond (Professional) Copyworld/Toshiba – 2:10.3201s
10. #25 John Martin (Professional) Copyworld/OPS Gateway – 2:11.2863s
11. #56 Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents – 2:11.5163s
12. #24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) AFS/Fleetguard – 2:11.8703s
13. #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Group – 2:11.9934s
14. #65 Fraser Ross (Professional) Porsche Centre Brighton – 2:12.2909s
15. #13 James Bergmuller (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) MotorOne Car Care – 2:12.6644s
16. #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc – 2:14.8829s
17. #6 Ash Samadi (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Apartment Hotel – 2:14.9844s
18. #222 Scott Taylor (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Scott Taylor Motorsport – 2:16.2487s
19. #5 Tony Walls (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Objective Racing – 2:16.7293s
20. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Veritas/Builtform – 2:18.7357s
21. #69 Brenton Griguol (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Koala Car Rentals – 2:21.4363s

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