Rubens Barrichello had a spin that forced a red flag in qualifying as James Golding topped the timesheets in the VHT Australian S5000 Championship season opener on Thursday.
The inaugural VHT Australian S5000 Championship season kicked off under blue skies at the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 and Golding enjoyed a strong day, going quickest in practice before he claimed the honours in the qualifying session.
Major intrigue surrounded the performances of ex-Formula 1® drivers Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella, too.
Barrichello was seventh quickest in practice but will start the race from 14th after he found the sand at Turn 4.
A red flag followed, ending Barrichello’s session, while Fisichella – winner of the 2005 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix with Renault – qualified ninth fastest.
But the day belonged to Golding, who set the tone by edging Team BRM’s Thomas Randle by 0.0072s in practice.
The roar of the S5000s turned heads as the cars took to the track in the morning and anticipation was high ahead of the category’s first championship qualifying session.
Barrichello did not last the distance, though, as reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Alexandre Premat enjoyed a stint in the lead.
Then it was Randle’s turn, but Golding usurped his best effort with a lap time of 1:50.652.
Randle (+0.237s) will start second on the grid, ahead of Modena Engineering’s Ricky Capo (+0.632s).
Garry Rogers Motorsport pair Premat and Luis Leeds will start fourth and fifth respectively.
It was also announced on Thursday that the winner of the 2020 VHT Australian S5000 Championship would win the Gold Star – an industry-recognised honour that had not been handed out since 2014.
Race 1 of the VHT Australian S5000 Championship round in Melbourne begins at 10.50am AEDT on Friday.
Further races follow on Saturday and Sunday.