Baird second quickest in practice at Townsville

Michael Almond was the unlikely pacesetter in a fast-paced opening day in Townsville, with Shane Smollen proving to be the form TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge driver.

Almond showed impressive pace in both practice sessions, posting the second quickest time in the opening session behind Craig Baird before setting the fastest time of the day in practice two.

Baird set the second best Friday time from Nick Foster. Duvashen Padayachee, debuting a new-look for his 911 for Townsville, was fourth fastest outright from David Russell and young Queenslander Matt Campbell in sixth.

Almond was pleased with his Friday form but admits having new Michelin tyres for practice certainly contributed to his top times.

“That was the best result I’ve had in Carrera Cup be it practice, qualifying or races so I’m pretty ecstatic with that. Obviously we had a good set of tyres although our times were pretty consistent throughout the session so hopefully I can get inside the top 10 in qualifying and the opening race tomorrow; and top five would be awesome,” said Almond.

Richard Muscat was seventh quickest in practice from Simon Hodge, Steven Richards, Nick McBride and newcomer John Martin in 11th.

Smollen posted the 12th best outright time and was the highest placed TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge driver from both sessions. The Sydneysider now hopes he can convert initial pace into strong race results.

“It’s only practice but my initial pace has certainly given me confidence in the changes that I’ve made coming into this meeting on how I drive the track. I’ve traditionally been on the pace in Townsville but have had some bad luck in the races but there’s no reason why that can’t come to an end this weekend,” said Smollen.

Fraser Ross, the 13th fastest driver in practice, was still less than a second from pacesetter Almond. Ross finished ahead of Tony Bates, Roger Lago, Stephen Grove, James Bergmuller, Ash Samadi, Marc Cini, Scott Taylor and Adrian Mastronardo in the combined practice times.

Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold qualifying and race one on Saturday, followed but its two final races of the weekend on Sunday – all of which can be viewed live on Fox Sports 5.

Combined Practice times
1. #26 Michael Almond (Copyworld) Professional – 01:14.6 (Fastest lap)
2. #8 Craig Baird (Porsche Centre Melbourne) Professional – 01:14.7
3. #777 Nick Foster (Bob Jane T-Marts) Professional – 01:14.8
4. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Darrell Lea Stix) Professional – 01:14.9
5. #10 David Russell (Finanze Ezi) Professional – 01:14.9
6. #7 Matt Campbell (Phase 8) Professional – 01:14.9
7. #22 Richard Muscat (Wilson Security / PAYCE / Genis Steel) Professional – 01:15.0
8. #11 Simon Hodge (Team BRM) Professional – 01:15.1
9. #1 Steven Richards (Laser Plumbing & Electrical) Professional – 01:15.2
10. #77 Nick McBride (Bob Jane T-Marts) Professional – 01:15.3
11. #25 John Martin (Copyworld) Professional – 01:15.4
12. #56 Shane Smollen (McGrath Estate Agents) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:15.4
13. #65 Fraser Ross (Porsche Centre Brighton) Professional – 01:15.6
14. #24 Tony Bates (AFS / TOP CAT Video Prod.) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:15.7
15. #23 Roger Lago (JBS Australia) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:16.1
16. #4 Stephen Grove (Grove Group) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:16.2
17. #13 James Bergmuller (MotorOne Car Care) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:16.3
18. #6 Ash Samadi (Apartment Hotel) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:16.7
19. #9 Marc Cini (Hallmarc) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:16.9
20. #222 Scott Taylor (Scott Taylor Motorsport) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:17.0
21. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (Veritas) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – 01:17.3

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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