MEDIA RELEASE 22 October 2011: Pearson claims season finale pole on Eastern Creek’s North Circuit

Pro-Duct’s Bob Pearson has taken out the final pole position for the 2011 Production Touring Car season during this morning’s qualifying session for round five of the 2011 NSW Production Touring Car Championship at Eastern Creek’s newly configured 2.8km North Circuit.

Before qualifying began, two drivers packed up early after experiencing troubles in Friday practice. Geoff Symes parked his Evo IX Mitsubishi Lancer when his differential failed, followed soon after by series returnee Matthew Reid. Despite setting some consistent lap times, the gearbox broke third and fourth gears and Reid had no option but to put the car away.

Conditions were warm for the final qualifying session of the season and with seven drivers vying for a championship that is still up for grabs, grid positions really mattered.  Rod Thorpe was the first man to strike first blood, posting a 71.84s on his first flying lap. Half a minute later, Pearson upped the ante and posted what would eventually be the fasted time of the session, his 70.34s good enough for pole. Two other drivers were pushing just as hard as they attempted to get close to Pearson, including Jim Pollicina. The 2009 championship was pushing hard in his ex-Kondouris Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX and got within 0.75s of Pearson’s best with a 71.10 before an oil leak forced him in for the rest of the session.

Outgoing 2010 champion Gus Barbara also got close to Pearson, his time of 71.55 was 0.45s shy of Pollicina, whilst being 1.2s behind the Pro-Duct driver. By the end of the session, the grid was set with Pearson on pole, followed by Pollicina, Barbara and Thorpe. Behind the top four was Dr Anton Metchler, who was the first driver in the 72s bracket with a 72.00s, Gerry Murphy in the second Pollicina Evo VIII Lancer with a 72.56s, Brett Heeley in his HSV with a 72.58s, fellow championship protagonist Tony Virag with a 72.73s, Jim Hunter in his Subaru with a 72.92s, Paul Wilbow with a 72.97s and Graeme Shaw in his Evo X RS Lancer with a 74.05s.

Of the six participants in Class B, three of the drivers are in championship contention – Geoff Kite, Paul Lane and Paul Loiacono and like Class A, grid positions really mattered. The field was bolstered with the late addition of Anthony Soole’s Ford Focus RS, which originally wasn’t entered until late Friday afternoon. Loiacono was quickly out of the blocks and set the fastest time in his class on his third flying lap with a 72.55s, which would be 1.72s quicker than the next best driver in Class B, which was David Atkin in his BMW M3R. His time of 74.27s put him second fastest, followed by the ever improving HSV VE Clubsport of Chris Reeves with a 74. 72s. Paul Lane was next in his VX example with a 74.99s then Geoff Kite, currently third in the championship with a 75.35s and the Focus RS of Soole with a 76.34s.

Azim Sahu-Khan and Kevin Herben were again the sole representatives in Class C and Class D respectively. Sahu-Khan has a slim mathematical chance of winning the state title, but is more realistic about his chances of defending the Club Championship crown, which he won last year. His time of 76.25s puts him within reach of some of Class B competitors should some of them falter. Herben and his Mazda 626 again kept out of harms way to post a respectable time of 80.65s. Being the only Class D competitor this season, he has wrapped up the class trophy and only needs to finish to consolidate his domination.

The first race of the weekend will be held shortly after 5pm this afternoon over 20 minutes. Races two and three will be held tomorrow at 11:55am and 4pm.

Qualifying Results: http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?23/10/2011.ECNT.Q7

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