UPDATE: despite predictions the higher temperatures in the final session would not produce faster times, German V8 Supercar driver Maro Engel pipped Salo by 0.0835 sec setting a time of 2:03.8586. Sorry Ferrari!
Mika Salo driving the #88 Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia set a new outright lap record at the famed Mount Panorama circuit in Australia.
"“It was a clear lap from the traffic but it wasn’t a clean lap, there were a few mistakes from me" said Salo who set the 2:03.9421 time in the final minutes of the first qualifying session. The previous outright lap record was set by an F3 car in 2012 with a 2:04.61. Jenson Button lapped Mt Panorama in 1:48 with an F1 Mclaren but that was in a demo run and not counted.
Behind the Finn, who will share the car with V8 Supercar ace Craig Lawndes, John Bowe and Peter Edwards, the Mercedes SLS of defending champions from Erebus Motorsport, followed by a Nissan GTR, a Mclaren MP4-12c and and Audi R8 Ultra. You could not have a better challenge, all the top GT3 cars in the world having at it on the mountain.
For Salo and Maranello Motorsport and emotional moment when they were awarded the first ever Allan Simonsen trophy, awarded to the pole sitters in honor of the Danish driver killed at Le Mans in 2013. Simonsen had raced for Maranello Motorsport and Salo told the press ahead of the session how he had wanted to set a mark for his friend.
“We need to keep the trophy for Allan Simonsen. He would have been on the pole anyway, so it’s good to get it for him”