Gallery: Kiwis quick at Highlands day one
van Gisbergen, Lester, Smyth star, though Europeans set the best Friday pace at Highlands
Day one of the 2015 Highlands 101 has been completed, with qualifying for the opening race of the Australian GT finale taking centre stage for the day.
The first qualifying session for secondary drivers was dominated by Australian GT series regular Nathan Antunes in his Audi R8, setting a time of 1:32.984, with Kiwi Graeme Smyth in second position in the Trass Family Motorsport Ferrari 458.
Session two was narrowly won by Germany's Christopher Haase thanks to a rapid 1:32.709, trailed home by top Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen in a McLaren 650S a mere 0.5 behind, and fellow German Christopher Mies. Jono Lester's fourth-place finish ahead of former Bathurst 1000 champion Garth Tander made it two New Zealanders in the top five order.
With the order for race one settled according to the fastest times set across both sessions, the Audi combination of Christopher Haase/Steven McLaughlin will start race one from pole position, ahead of Klark Quinn/Shane van Gisbergen (McLaren), Nathan Antunes/Rod Salmon (Audi), Christopher Mies/Ryan Miller (Audi), and Jono Lester/Graeme Smyth (Ferrari).
Other notable mentions are the father/son combination of Andrew and George Miedecke, starting from seventh in their Aston Martin run by New Zealander Ross Stone, and Kiwi Porsche specialist Craig Baird who — along with NZ Touring Car driver Scott Taylor — will start from 14th.
But while the drivers get some attention, some would consider the cars of the Australian GT Championship the stars. Check out a cross-section of the vehicles on show in the gallery below: