A FRIDAY NIGHT fight has seen Porsche Michelin Juniors Ryan Wood and Tom Sargent battle for pole position in the opening round of the 2022 Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Series at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The pair traded fastest times in the session held under lights at the Sydney venue, the Team Porsche NZ / EBM driver jumping to the top late on his second run to displace Sargent to second.
Sam Shahin took pole in Morris Finance Pro-Am and qualified an outstanding third outright in the process.
Wood and Sargent ended the session split by just 0.26 seconds with the pair to start from the front row for tomorrow’s season opener – which doubles as the first Jim Richards Endurance Trophy race of the year.
Wood’s 1:30.0881 was just 0.26s faster than Sargent’s best, the latter not improving on his flyer set on his first run earlier in the session.
The effort was even more impressive after Wood suffered a broken upright in an earlier session, causing him to miss practice two.
The dynamic duo up front were some margin ahead of the remainder of the field as they dominated the flat-out 20-minute session held on a cool and crisp Western Sydney evening.
With Shahin third, another Sprint Challenge rookie qualified fourth: McElrea Racing’s Aaron Shields securing a spot on the second row.
Tigani Motorsport’s Ollie Shannon qualified fifth, the brand-new outfit making it five different teams in the top five in the competitive session.
Lachlan Bloxsom was sixth, in front of Sonic Motor Racing / Local Legends driver Courtney Prince who was seventh.
Adelaide-based racer Tom Taplin celebrated his return to the championship by qualifying eighth, and also topping the Class B contenders.
The Class B field sees drivers racing the previous-generation Type 1 991-Generation Porsche GT3 Cup Car – the model that until this year was the latest eligible for the series.
Madeline Stewart qualified a strong ninth in her spectacular Bullrush Rally-backed entry, while another rookie – Stokes Skis Australia racer Jason Miller – completed the top-10.
With Shahin’s late-session flyer seeing him well ahead in the Morris Finance Pro-Am ranks, the battle for the next few positions within the class was much more competitive.
Brett Boulton was second in class and 13th outright, and only just edged out West Australian Andrew Goldie for bragging rights within the category.
Christian Fitzgerald was fourth in class on his Sprint Challenge debut.
26 cars have qualified for the opening round of the series, with only TekworkX Motorsport driver Nathan Sticklen unable to set a time following an incident in practice earlier on Friday.
All three Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge races will be broadcast on Stan Sport this weekend from Sydney Motorsport Park’s Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships event.
Ryan Wood, Team Porsche NZ / EBM
“It was a great start, can’t thank the guys at Earl Bamber Motorsport enough as well as Porsche Team New Zealand for making this opportunity possible and everyone who has backed me to get to this point. It’s been a hard slog to make this happen and I’m just glad to be able to show my potential. It was a hard session, I’ve never driven a race car at night, it made it a bit difficult, especially missing Practice two today as well with the upright failing, which put us on the back foot, but we ended up with a good result, so it eyes forward for tomorrow.”
Morris Finance Pro-Am
“I love the 991, I have wonderful memories of both the Gen 1 car and the the Gen 2. I didn’t do myself any favours going out in the first session on last year’s tyres, it really knocked my confidence about, but the second session was a little better and I was quite anxious about the qualifying session in the dark and how the track was going to behave. Coming off driving the 992 generation car last week, the 991 is so different to drive, so I’m absolutely thrilled to put in a good lap right at the end.”
“It was good to be fastest in class B, obviously not really used to that as a benchmark we want to be up with the Pros, they have slight advantage with the Gen 2 car, but we using this as an exercise to see how close we can get to them and we’re in a good position for the long race, I just got to focus on getting a good start and be consistent as I have been all day, so if the guys in front have an incident I’ll be there to pick up the pieces.”