A classic winter pea-souper put Queensland teams on the back foot, delaying the test day for more than an hour this morning.
After the thick fog lifted enough for the track to open just before 9am, a wild wind gust whipped across the circuit and blew over several large portable marquees that were erected behind the pit stalls forcing several punters and crew members and driver Michael Patrizi to scramble to safety.
TeamVodafone were not immune to a bizarre day when they were forced to replace a gearbox in Championship leader Jamie Whincup’s Commodore early in the session.
The team had anticipated a problem which stemmed from the Sunday race in Townsville earlier this month where a few puffs of smoke were seen coming out of No 1 Commodore.
“We thought there might be an issue after Townsville so it was good to sort it out now rather than next weekend at the race meeting here,” team manager Adrian Burgess said.
Whincup’s enduro co-driver Paul Dumbrell was forced to sit out all of the morning running before suiting up for some runs in the afternoon.
“I’ve done two tests at race meetings and two stand-alone test sessions before today so I’ve had enough laps in the car,” Dumbrell said.
“For me its a matter of needing to become more accustomed to the way everyone works in the crew.”
All of the Queensland teams and almost half a dozen Development Series cars made the most of the on a hot but sometimes blustery day with track temperatures reaching well into the 30’s.
The common feeling from most drivers is that the track will be up to half a second quicker after the 3.12km “paperclip” circuit was recently given a fresh coating of bitumen that has smoothed out some of the bumps, temporarily at least.
As the test day wore on there was evidence that the underneath of the front splitters had been scuffing up the track surface going into the heavy braking zone into turn one.
Andrew Thompson, co-driving Tim Slade in the Lucky 7 Falcon, predicts times to be between half to one second quicker in qualifying if track temperature does not climb too high.
“The bumps are definitely better down the back straight and depending on conditions its going to be a fair bit quicker,” Thompson said.
“I was in and out of the Lucky 7 car today while the guys were making changes from run-to-run and I was doing some fuel mapping and bedding in brakes etc.”
“For me it’s about blowing the cobwebs out and there will be another test session tomorrow and there is another co-driver session booked before Sandown in September.”
“There is a lot of potential with this car its, just a matter of unlocking it.”
Craig Lowndes’ co-driver Warren Luff is comfortable with the progress and amount of seat time he has had in the Number 888 Holden.
“I’ve been given more than enough miles in the car and that’s one thing these guys at TeamVodafone are really good at and that’s been a great association,” Luff said.
Scott McLaughlin (Fujitsu Falcon) put in some blistering times of the Development Series operators who turned out.
Adelaide-born Scott Pye was forced to sit and watch the test as he did not have a sufficient amount of tyres for the day to roll out his Monster Holden.
Ford SimPRO driver Ash Walsh was feeling the effects of the ‘flu and had turned only 50 laps in the Falcon by 3.30pm.
“I’ve just felt a bit drained of energy but hopefully I can go out and do a few more laps before the track closes at 5pm because we made quite a few changes to the car before Townsville which we still need to work on,” Walsh said.