Any times set this weekend will be records as the course configuration has changed, dropping from 4. km to 2. km.
Second overall was another two V8 driver team – Points Leader JAMES COURTNEY/No.18 Jim Beam Racing Ford Falcon FG, co-driving with WARREN LUFF.
The top team with an International guest driver was No.55 The Bottle-O Racing Team Ford Falcon FG, with PAUL DUMBRELL qualifying the car. His co-driver is JACQUES VILLENEUVE of Canada. Half the Top Ten V8 qualifiers had International teammates.
Saturday V8 races have a qualifying session, followed by the Top Ten Shootout, which pits the top fastest qualifiers against each other in a one-lap qualifying session, a la NASCAR.
LEE HOLDSWORTH/No.33 Fujitsu Racing/GRM Holden Commodore VE was the fastest V8 driver Saturday morning in the half-hour qualifying session.
The half-hour qualifying session had three red flags, the first being NATHAN PRETTY/No.30 Gulf Western Oil Racing Holden Commodore VE, who crashed on his out lap. He’s paired with SCOTT PRUETT of California, who has had very little seat time so far this weekend as Pretty crashed very early in his first Friday practice session.
Pretty said he locked his rears and hit the wall on his first lap, so the car will start the race from Pit Lane. He said Pruett would start the race so the American can get some race time. Pretty wanted to send Pruett home with a smile on his face.
It will take a lot to make that smile happen. Pruett is disappointed at this point that he has not been able to show what he can do. It’s a waste of talent. Pruett, turning fifty this year, is the oldest driver in the field
Pruett won the 1997 CART race at Surfers and ran six other Gold Coast raes. Pruett ran the 1997 Bathurst 1000. Pruett has extensive experience in endurance raes of all kinds, as well as numerous stock car races in NASCAR, three-time Trans-Am champion, three-time winner at Rolex 24 of Daytona, Le Mans LMGTS class winner, two-time IMSO GTO champion, and three time Rolex Daytona Prototype champion.
This weekend is Pretty’s first Surfer’s V8 race, although he’s had 13 V8 starts. Pretty also won the 24 hour Bathurst He said this weekend is a low point in his career.
The Bing Lee/Panasonic team chose to put the guest driver, GIANNI MORBIDELLI, in the car for qualifying so he’d get some more time in the car before the race – the car was changed a bit overnight. A crew member said “It didn’t work out well.” The team will start twenty-fifth in the race.
I asked SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS of France how it felt to be on the sidelines while someone else qualified his car – he said he didn’t mind. It was no problem for SeeBass who said it’s not his car, his responsibility, his points chase, and he’s part of the team.
TOP TEN STARTERS
1 2 GARTH TANDER/Cameron McConville Holden
2 18 JAMES COURTNEY/Warren Luff Ford
* 3 55 PAUL DUMBRELL/JACQUES VILLENEUVE Ford
4 5 MARK WINTERBOTTOM/Luke Youlden Ford
5 33 LEE HOLDSWORTH/Greg Ritter Holden
* 6 888 CRAIG LOWNDES/ANDY PRIAULX Holden
* 7 6 STEVEN RICHARDS/WILL POWER Ford
8 1 JAMIE WHINCUP/Steve Owen Holden
* 9 34 MICHAEL CARUSO/PATRICK LONG Holden
*10 22 WILL DAVISON/RYAN BRISCOE Holden