Allan SimonsenAllan Simonsen has scored an emphatic pole position following today’s 20-minute qualifying session for round four of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island.

The Dane needed only three laps to bank a benchmark time of 1m35.5093s to score pole position, just a tenth ahead of current Championship leader Greg Crick and a mere two tenths up on Porsche ace Bryce Washington, leaving three different manufacturers inside an intensely competitive top three.

Simonsen’s pole was the first for Ferrari this season, the Italian manufacturer becoming the third different marque to take top spot in qualifying this year following earlier successes for Porsche and Dodge.

“We did only what we needed to do,” said Simonsen.

“The lap I did was good enough to put me in front which was really good. You can’t ask for any more than that.”

Crick took his Speed Energy Drink-supported Dodge Viper GTS ACR to second position, conserving his Tyres early in the day before banking a competitive 1m35.62s lap to once again sit on the front row of the grid.

The important fact for the Tasmanian driver was that he will start tomorrow’s opening race ahead of defending champion Bryce Washington – his closest rival for the championship to date.

Washington held provisional pole position for a majority of today’s 20-minute qualifying run, only bumped off the top spot by Simonsen and then Crick with less than five minutes remaining in the session.

“We banked a time early and then went to the pits to wait and see what the others could do,” the South Australian Porsche GT3 Cup Car driver said.

“It worked for us at Oran Park (where he scored Pole Position) but unfortunately the Ferrari and Crick were able to get out and bump us back to the second row. The car is pretty good so we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes in the racing tomorrow.”

Canberra-based driver James Koundouris (Dare Coffee Shots Porsche GT3 Cup Car) will start fourth tomorrow, whilst David Wall took his Kerrick Industrial supported Porsche GT3 RSR to fifth.

An impressive performance today was produced by West Australian driver Stuart Kostera – who has taken over the driving duties of the Porsche regularly steered by Maher Algadri.

Kostera – a former Australian Formula Ford race winner – improved consistently throughout today’s session and looks to be a force tomorrow.

An impressive debut came from the Ferrari F430 Challenge of David Stevens, the New South Welshman taking his Brennan IT supported car to a strong eighth place result today on the cars debut.

Stevens – who has plenty of experience racing Porsches – banked a 1m37.94s lap today signaling that the awesome new Ferrari has a significant amount of potential ready to be unleashed on the Australian GT Championship field.

“The car is great and it’s really good to have it on track,” Stevens enthused following qualifying.

“It’s still running in Challenge specifications so it doesn’t have nearly as much downforce compared to what I’m used to with the old Porsche.

“It was a bit hairy going over Lukey Heights – moving all over the road – so when we get the GT3 aero kit on the car it will be awesome.

“Yesterday was the first time, really, that I’ve had a good look at the car so to be eighth on debut is fantastic!” he enthused.

John Teulan – also running a brand new F430 Challenge – posted 11th best time today, just half a second off Stevens’ best.

Viper driver D’Arcy Russell and fellow local driver Max Twigg completed today’s competitive top ten.

Failing to make the qualifying session today was the Porsche of Paul Tresidder, who had a large shunt coming onto the high-speed start finish straight in the second practice session.

The New South Wales-based driver dropped a wheel off the circuit, the soft grass causing the car to spray across the circuit and into the pit straight wall.

The Porsche sustained severe damage to both the front and rear, the driver emerging unscathed despite the ferocity of the shunt.

Tomorrow’s fourth round of the 2006 Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship will mark the half way point of the season, the field looking to find the fourth different winner from four rounds this season.

Three races will be held tomorrow, each 12 laps in duration.

For more information please visit www.gtchampionship.com.au

Top Times – Qualifying

1. Allan Simonsen (Ferrari F360 GT) 1m35.5093

2. Greg Crick (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m35.6222

3. Bryce Washington (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m35.7806

4. James Koundouris (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m36.6863

5. David Wall (Porsche GT3 RSR) 1m37.0757

6. Stuart Kostera (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.4721

7. John Kaias (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m37.5686

8. David Stevens (Ferrari F430 Challenge) 1m37.9467

9. D’Arcy Russell (Dodge Viper GTS ACR) 1m38.2488

10. Max Twigg (Porsche GT3 Cup Car) 1m38.5007