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Lyons imperious in qualifying

British driver Michael Lyons has claimed the first bragging rights in the Total Oil International Sports Car Challenge at Albert Park.

Lyons, a regular Melbourne visitor, powered to an emphatic pole position in his thumping 8.8-litre March 717.

With the sports cars making their debut at Albert Park, today’s sessions were a huge learning curve for all the drivers, and it was Lyons who showed the field a clean pair of heels with a best lap of 1:55.3907.

That was nearly two seconds ahead of fellow-Briton Andrew Newall (McLaren M8F) -- another driver benefiting from a massive 8800cc powerplant around the expansive grand prix circuit.

The second row of the grid for the opening eight-lap race on Saturday will be filled by Queenslander Russell Kempnich (Porsche 956C) and Victorian Alex Davison in the Le Mans 24 Hour-winning Porsche 936-81 Spyder.

The International Sports Cars program will showcase stunning machinery from the 1960s to 1980s, cars manufactured at time when technical regulations weren’t exactly far-reaching – opening the door for heavyweights like Porsche and McLaren to enjoy extended periods of pre-eminence.

Meanwhile, Duncan MacKellar (McLaren M8E) and Rick Hall (Matra Simca) qualified in positions five and six, ahead of Aaron Lewis (Lola T163) and Rusty French (Porsche 935) on row four.

Attrition is already a factor, with only 31 of the 35 drivers who took part in practice saddling up for this afternoon’s 20-minute qualifying session.

Race one is at 6:25pm on Saturday.

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