Will Davison fastest in opening Gold Coast practice

Will Davison and Mika Salo have topped the times in the first practice session

Will Davison and Mika Salo have topped the times in the first practice session

Will Davison has set the fastest time in Practice 1 at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 as the drivers had their first taste of the reconfigured kerbing around the Surfers Paradise circuit.

Davison set a best time of 1:12.07s before handing his car over to co-driver Mika Salo for the final flying lap of the 40 minute session.

Greg Ritter, who has replaced Alexandre Premat in the #33 Fujitsu Racing Holden this weekend, was 0.4s adrift in second after briefly moving to the top of the order with little over 10 minutes remaining.

Mark Winterbottom also spent time at the top to end up third fastest ahead of Craig Lowndes, James Courtney, Rick Kelly, Lee Holdsworth, Michael Caruso, Tony D’Alberto and Steve Owen.

As expected, the regular drivers completed the bulk of the running, although Salo, Will Power, Peter Dumbreck, Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Jamie Campbell-Walter all ventured onto the circuit for exploratory laps in the closing stages.

Exploring the limits of the electronic sensors inside the re-profiled kerbs at Turn 2 and the Turn 7/8/9/10 chicane was a heavy focus for all teams. The majority of drivers had at least one of their times disallowed for jumping the kerbs, including Winterbottom, who reported that the sensitivity was “confusing” after having consecutive laps wiped mid-session.

The LDM Commodore suffered heavy damage

The LDM Commodore suffered heavy damage

“We’re just trying to work out what we can use and what we can’t use,” said Winterbottom afterward. “Some sensors are more sensitive than others.”

Although narrowly beneath the fastest time set in Practice 1 last year, the beefed up chicanes ensured that Davison’s quickest time was a full two seconds slower than the race lap record he set in the closing stages of last year’s Sunday afternoon ‘free for all’.

Ironically, it was the cutting of the flat inside kerb at the final corner that raised the ire of Race Control in Practice 1, with Rick Kelly, James Moffat, Shane van Gisbergen, David Wall and Fabian Coulthard all receiving warnings for cutting the apex.

Two red flag periods for incidents in the Turn 1/2/3 chicane had punctuated the early part of the session.

Taz Douglas’ iSelect Commodore suffered substantial left-front damage when he clipped the Turn 2 apex kerb and fired into exit wall just 10 minutes in. The car returned to pitlane under its own power but took no further part in the session.

“It’s a pretty shit way to start the weekend. I just clipped the kerb in there and it just fired it into the fence,” said Douglas.

“It’s not good for the guys, it’s not good for my co-driver (Mike Conway). It’s not good for anyone really. We might have to miss the next session but hopefully we’ll be back on track later today.”

David Reynolds endured his own less dramatic version of the same incident just minutes after the restart, taking the left-side doors off his The Bottle-O Ford against the wall after his car snapped into oversteer at the exit of Turn 2.

It was also a difficult start to the weekend for Garth Tander, who was forced to sit on the sidelines for the majority of the session with engine problems. The #2 Holden Racing Team entry completed just one flying lap at the end of the running after Tander reporting a sticking throttle on his initial out-lap.

Things also went less than smoothly for Kelly Racing as the team suffered a brief mid-session ‘blackout’ in its garage. Kelly was one of several apparently frustrated with the kerb sensors, and also reported that “a European tried to stick me in the fence” at the end of the session.

Practice 2, for the international co-drivers only, will kick-off at 1135 local time.

See below for the full session result

1 W.Davison/M.Salo Ford Falcon FG 1:12.0639
2 Greg Ritter Holden Commodore VE2 1:12.4600 0:00.3961
3 M.Winterbottom/W.Power Ford Falcon FG 1:12.5924 0:00.5285
4 Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE2 1:12.6507 0:00.5868
5 James Courtney Holden Commodore VE2 1:12.6649 0:00.6010
6 Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE2 1:12.7368 0:00.6729
7 Lee Holdsworth Ford Falcon FG 1:12.7953 0:00.7314
8 Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE2 1:12.8619 0:00.7980
9 Tony D’Alberto Ford Falcon FG 1:12.9469 0:00.8830
10 Steve Owen Ford Falcon FG 1:12.9963 0:00.9324
11 Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.0420 0:00.9781
12 James Moffat Ford Falcon FG 1:13.4333 0:01.3694
13 R.Ingall/P.Dumbreck Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.4386 0:01.3747
14 David Reynolds Ford Falcon FG 1:13.4420 0:01.3781
15 Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG 1:13.4585 0:01.3946
16 Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG 1:13.4851 0:01.4212
17 F.Coulthard/N.Minassian Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.5322 0:01.4683
18 Jonathon Webb Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.5977 0:01.5338
19 Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG 1:13.6518 0:01.5879
20 K.Reindler/F.Montagny Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.6696 0:01.6057
21 Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.8244 0:01.7605
22 J.Bright/S.Sarrazin Holden Commodore VE2 1:13.9276 0:01.8637
23 Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 1:14.0218 0:01.9579
24 Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE2 1:14.0220 0:01.9581
25 D.Wall/J.Campbell-Walte Holden Commodore VE2 1:14.1541 0:02.0902
26 Michael Patrizi Holden Commodore VE2 1:14.2546 0:02.1907
27 Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VE2 1:14.9654 0:02.9015
28 Taz Douglas Holden Commodore VE2 1:15.5785 0:03.5146

See below for Speedcafe.com’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 Race Guide

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