Exactly one month ago Allan Simonsen achieved fame at Bathurst by co-piloting the Pepsi Max Crew pole sitting V8 Supercar to a well deserved third place, alongside Greg Murphy.

Today, he returns again from Bathurst with another title to his name – that of being the fastest person to lap the tricky Mount Panorama circuit in a car with a roof, with a time of 2 minutes 4.9560 seconds.

Simonsen was shaking down the brand new Maranello Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 which he will drive at next years Bathurst 12 Hour.
The opportunity to test the new 458 came as part of the multi-day Drive Bathurst event, where drivers can enjoy their own car on the mountain circuit.

Consequently, a few 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour GT3 race cars took advantage of the opportunity to put in some valuable test time, that would normally have been only available in the few days preceeding the event.

image courtesy of Rod Lang

Allan was ecstatic about the new cars performance on its track debut.

“This car is damn fast! Given this is our first test, it’s certainly nice to break the lap record finally and we did it in style.

“From the first laps at Bathurst the car was very quick, given it has a great setup baseline from running in Europe this year so we knew we’d be able to work from where they’d left off.

“The power and the chassis are so complementary and I’m feeling really comfortable in the car and with the team.

“These new generation cars are all going to have a fast pace, and there’s no doubt the (Bathurst) 12 Hour is going to be very fast and incredibly competitive – it’s an event I’m definitely looking forward to on the calendar.”

image courtesy of Rod Lang

Given Simonsen's experience with the 458, it is less surprising that he snatched the fastest time for a tin-top from his old Triple Eight Racing team mate Craig Lowndes, who ironically stole that title from none other than Allan's 2011 Supercheap Auto 1000 team mate, Greg Murphy.

During 2011, Simonsen has campaigned the 458, albiet in Le Mans GTE Pro specification (previously GT2) alongside Dominik Farnbacher in the Le Mans Series, with a strong podium result at both the Spa 1000 and at Paul Ricard, which was the first outing for the Michelotto prepared Italian exotic.

image courtesy of Rod Lang

Farnbacher will join Simonsen for the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour, along with legend John Bowe and car owner Peter Edwards, who after campaigning a Ferrari 430 in 2011 has upgraded to the new 458.

Whilst Simonsen has been using the 458 in the Le Mans Series and selected German VLN races, including the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, where the car won pole position, Farnbacher has had an even more expansive 458 program, running a GT3 car in the prestigious ADAC GT Masters Championship, where he scored one win.

Combining the talents of the drivers will be Mark Coffey's Maranello Motorsport operation who have recently announced their tie up in Australia with Michelotto.

After this weekend, you can be sure many eyes will be on the Maranello squad, come February, with the factory supported Audi R8 LMS GT3 entrants taking particular notice of Simonsen's war cry warning, achieved yesterday.

And finally, another twist to this story and the ongoing battle between Simonsen, Lowndes and Murphy for the top time honour.

Earlier in the year, ex-F1 Champion, Jenson Button took his McLaren F1 car to Bathurst, to allow Craig Lowndes a drive around Mount Panorama. Button took over Lowndes' V8 Supercar. And it was Lowndes who put in a stellar time of 1 minute 49 seconds. Unfortunately, it was not timed as an official lap. Allan's was. Let the record books be clear on this.

By any standards, Allan is keeping very good company!

image courtesy of Rod Lang