Mark Winterbottom's Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
The leading drivers from this afternoon’s qualifying session at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 have expressed their surprise at not being closer to the practice lap record.
Garth Tander scored provisional pole position with a 2:07.66s lap – almost 0.9s slower than Craig Lowndes’ record time set on Friday last year.
While the lack of dry running in the lead up to the session is likely to have adversely affected the track’s condition, Tander said his session-topping time was slow relative to the feeling he had from behind the wheel.
“I’m very very happy with the car, it’s very comfortable across the top – it’s the best car I’ve ever had here,” said Tander of the #2 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore.
“There actually felt like there was good grip in the track as well, so I’m not quite sure why the times weren’t there.
“I had thought that a 2:07.2s or 2:07.3s would have been necessary to be sitting up here (in the top three), but a 7.6 was good enough.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the weather overnight and tomorrow to see what the Shootout delivers.”
Mark Winterbottom was the second fastest driver in the session courtesy of a 2:07.72s lap, but is optimistic that the lap record can be approached tomorrow.
“The car felt good from the outset – it had a good balance, but to do a 7.7s it’s a long way from beating his (Lowndes’ time),” said Winterbottom.
“It didn’t feel like the track was a second off, but I think tomorrow afternoon if we have had a bit more dry track running and a bit of a colder afternoon as well, some speed might come from that.
“So it should be a bit quicker, but we’ll have to wait and see.”
Jamie Whincup was third fastest on 2:07.74s, and suggested that the wind direction negatively affected the times.
“I was having a crack at the engine guys saying that we were lacking quite a few ponies down the straight because we weren’t even into the limiter, but there was quite a big headwind down Conrod,” said Whincup.
“But in saying that, most of us were a half a second down over the top as well, so it’s hard to know what to put it down to.”
Whincup, who crashed just three hours prior to qualifying in Practice 5, added that the need for a quick-fix did not affect his final lap time.
“Maybe the steering rack wasn’t perfectly centred, it turned better one way than the other, but that didn’t slow it down,” he said.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Bathurst Race Guide