AARON LOVE has once again returned from Europe to lead the field in the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship, the Sonic Motor Racing Services driver comfortably topping the times across a pair of 25-minute practice sessions today at The Bend Motorsport Park.
Love’s best lap of 1m49.9159s in the second session was the quickest ever for a Carrera Cup car at the 4.9km circuit in South Australia, the West Aussie driver topping the times by more than four-tenths of a second as the field prepared for the fifth round of eight this year.
Adrian Flack edged out home-town hero Sam Shahin to top the Morris Pro-Am runners as Porsche’s race within a race continues to heat up.
Love, who is splitting his time between Europe and Australia this season, raced in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at Paul Ricard last weekend however showed no signs of jetlag to top the times in South Australia on a crisp but dry Friday at The Bend.
His Bob Jane T-Marts Porsche was fourth fastest in practice one before a searing sequence of laps towards the end of the second, quicker session in the afternoon saw him drop well beneath the existing circuit records – topping both the race and qualifying benchmarks.
Sonic are prior winners at The Bend, in 2018 and 2019, while both the race and qualifying records are held by Aaron’s older brother, Jordan – also aboard Sonic machinery.
Second was EMA Motorsport’s David Russell, who headed a queue of nine cars covered by 0.4 seconds.
EMA are fielding cars on two continents this weekend with a Porsche 911 GT3R entry in the Spa 24 Hour enduro in Belgium – co driven by former Aussie champion, Matt Campbell.
Townsville race winner Jackson Walls ended the day third, Dylan O’Keeffe fourth and Townsville round winner Callum Hedge was fifth.
Hedge topped the opening practice session aboard his Earl Bamber Motorsport / Team Porsche NZ entry to continue his strong recent form.
Championship leader Harri Jones, Christian Pancione, Luke Youlden, Ryan Suhle and second-placed David Wall completed the top-10.
South Aussie Max Vidau had a solid day at the office on his return to his home circuit – finishing third quickest in practice one.
All 10 fastest cars on Friday’s combined practice lap times all lapped beneath the existing The Bend lap record.
Morris Pro-Am was equally competitive as usual with Adrian Flack edging out Sam Shahin for the fastest time of the day.
Flack’s 1m51.57s was 0.07s quicker than Shahin’s best and just 1.6s behind the outright leader on the third-longest lap on the Carrera Cup calendar.
Liam Talbot was third fastest with Dean Cook and Matt Belford next in Pro-Am.
The fifth round of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship continues tomorrow with a 20-mintue qualifying session, before the first race later in the afternoon.
Aaron Love, Fastest Pro
“It was a nice session, I’ve never been here before in this car so I’ve been learning lap after lap. So it’s nice to get the result, but at the end of the day its only Friday and practice. I think we still got a bit of work to do overnight and we have to make sure we do it all tomorrow in qualifying. It’s always been a good track for Sonic, one of our home tracks is Phillip Island so we can correlate a lot of the data from there to it, it’s always good that we can have a track that we always go to and get a relatively good base off, but I’m enjoying being back here.”
Adrian Flack, Fastest Morris Pro Am, Practice 2
“First is a good place to be for the start of the weekend, we just need to try push on with it and end up in the same position at the end of the weekend. The track had a lot more grip that session than the previous session, but I still find it tricky to know how much grip you going to have in the corner, until you get into it. Sam has done so many laps around here, I figured he would be way up the road so to be in front, or even that close, I’m stoked.
Callum Hedge, Fastest Pro, Practice 1
“We tested here a few times before and we took a few theories into that session which we thought would work and it seemed to pay dividends, but the track is really cold and fresh as it rained overnight. We’ve just got to wait for a bit of rubber to come in and put some better tyres on and we’ll go have a proper crack. But it’s a good continuation from our win in Townsville and hopefully we stay there for the rest of the weekend.”