Scott McLaughlin returned Volvo to the top of the Supercars pecking order in practice at Sydney Motorsport Park as the youngster bids to reignite his title challenge.
Fourth in the opening session, McLaughlin’s Practice 2 best of 1:29.78s proved the benchmark in the second 60 minutes of running.
A late charge from Shane van Gisbergen drew the Red Bull Holden to within 0.04s of the Volvo, while Prodrive duo Mark Winterbotom and Chaz Mostert completed the top four.
Struggling for balance during Friday practice at each of the last two events, McLaughlin’s return to form has come on Sydney’s fast, flowing layout.
The Garry Rogers Motorsport driver says it’s vital to capitalise on his speed this weekend in order to stay in championship contention.
“The car was good all day, we’re pretty happy but we’ll see how we go tomorrow,” he said.
“It’s a huge weekend (for the championship).
“The other guys aren’t getting any slower so it’s important to stay in front of them.
“To win the championship you need to be in the top five if not winning races, so that’s the aim.”
Van Gisbergen was among a sea of drivers to note high tyre degradation during the day, with many surprised by the year-on-year change.
“Both sessions were pretty much the same story, sliding around everywhere, the track is so hard on tyres,” he said.
“We all have the same issue, which is nothing new, but it makes it very hard to really understand where everyone sits.”
Fabian Couthard and James Courtney ended the session fifth and sixth respectively, with the Holden Racing Team driver just 0.1s away from the pace.
Michael Caruso was seventh in a session that proved disastrous for Nissan team-mate Rick Kelly.
Kelly made side-on contact with the wall at the exit of Turn 3 after suffering a stuck throttle on his Altima.
Although the damage was soon repaired, an inability to solve the throttle issue saw Kelly spend the remainder of the session in the garage.
Scott Pye also endured a wild moment, saving a near certain crash with quick reflexes as he car slew sideways across the back of the Turn 1 exit kerb.
The profile of the kerb damaged the Ford’s right-rear onboard jack, requiring a stint in the garage.
Supercars drivers will have a final 15 minute practice session tomorrow at 1300 local time before qualifying at 1415.
Result: Virgin Australian Supercars Championship Red Rooster Sydney Super Sprint Practice 2
|1||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||1:29.77|
|2||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||1:29.81||00.04|
|3||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:29.83||00.05|
|4||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:29.83||00.05|
|5||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:29.84||00.07|
|6||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||1:29.87||00.10|
|7||Nissan Motorsport||M.Caruso/D.Fiore||Nissan Altima||1:29.91||00.14|
|8||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||1:29.97||00.20|
|9||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.07||00.29|
|10||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.12||00.35|
|11||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:30.13||00.35|
|12||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:30.14||00.36|
|13||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:30.20||00.43|
|14||LD Motorsport||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.23||00.45|
|15||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||1:30.25||00.47|
|16||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.25||00.48|
|17||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:30.29||00.51|
|18||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.34||00.56|
|19||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.46||00.68|
|20||LD Motorsport||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.54||00.77|
|21||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.75||00.98|
|22||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.85||01.07|
|23||Preston Hire Racing||K.Reindler/L.Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.85||01.08|
|24||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||1:30.99||01.21|
|25||Erebus Motorsport||Shae Davies||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.62||01.84|
|26||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||8:35.91||06.13|