Carnage at the Mountain in IGTC Qualifying

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Peace returned to the Mountain circuit of Bathurst today after numerous cars were either badly damaged or destroyed in the final Free Practice and first of three Qualifying sessions earlier on Saturday.

The head count on damaged cars during FP5 could have also have included the #62 R-Motorsport Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Luca Ghiotto as he suffered a 'glitch in cornering adhesion' (for the want of a better term) whilst going through the left hander into McPhillamy Park. Despite taking a large loop through the gravel he at least survived to lap again whereas others would not be so fortunate.

The end of Free Practice still left even the fastest of AMR cars still 1.6 seconds off the pace of those at the top but at least all four Astons were slowly improving as the session progressed.

Q1 later in the midday heat of the near Australian outback saw all remaining thirty six cars run albeit for the GT3 teams, this was just procedural and an affective fuel burn off stage ahead (refuelling banned once Qualifying starts) of their main Qualifying session next.

Fifteen minutes into the first forty five of Q1 saw a massive accident take place at the scene of Ghiotto's earlier near miss and that wiped out both the Mercedes AMG and the Marc Cars involved. Best news of all was that both drivers removed themselves from the wrecks of their cars unaided and were mainly uninjured.

Due to the delay in clearing the track, this session was reduced in time length but being only used to determine the grid for the GT4 and INV starters, this mattered not to the GT3 teams as their clocks effectively zero'd again ready for Q2.

Ten minutes into Q2's thirty minute session disaster struck the #62 R-Motorsport with this time Marvin Kirchhofer at the wheel. Running slightly wide coming into The Grate, the #62 car bounced off the outside concrete wall (breaking its right hand side geometry and steering), sending it (luckily) rearward and hard into the concrete wall again for a massive secondary impact.

With debris being strewn in all directions the car is then seen to stand up on its now crumpled rear before rolling over at least once before coming to a half (fortunately) on any wheels it had left. Miraculously in this case, Kirchhofer had already started to remove himself from the wreckage of his car as emergency crews and other drivers reach the crash site and attended to him - seeing him walk unaided to the medical car was the best news that anyone could ask for at the time and that paid testimony to the design, build qualify and technical regulation that goes into modern race cars. The chassis however will have to be consigned to the scrap heap and replaced!

With personal concern still in their minds, it was amazing how these drivers then went out again to finish off their Qualifying despite everything that they had just seen. All was not sadly done though though in the 'land of carnage' as a Lamborghini managed to crash and land on top of the tyre wall at the scene of the previous Mercedes/Marc Car accident!!

At the end of the day - progress has again been made by the now three remaining AMR teams from both R-Motorsport and Garage 59. Jake Dennis and his #76 crew reached the Top 10 shoot out again but had to settle for a P10 start in tomorrows race having finished just 1.1 seconds behind the Pole setting Porsche.

The two Garage 59 cars P18 overall for the #188 Pro-Am entry for Alex West/Come Ledogar/Chris Goodwin/Maxime Martin (that's a P3 start in class) whilst the immensely impressive so far Silver #159 entry for Andrew Watson/Oliver Hart/Roman de Angelis Qualified P20 overall and P2 in Class.

Race starts 18:45 GMT Saturday evening and its going to be eventful!!

Photo credits - IGTC

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