Pre-marked softs muddy Winton practice order
While a recent rule change saw every car with a set of new hard tyres to use during practice at Winton, the presence of pre-marked softs ensured that the pecking order is still not clear cut.
Fastest man Chaz Mostert recorded his quickest lap on the new hards in the dying stages, stopping the clocks with a best of 1:23.01s.
The performance saw the 23-year-old emerge as a clear favourite for success on Saturday, where qualifying will be critical ahead of the two 60km, hard tyre races.
By contrast, second and third placed drivers at the end of practice, James Moffat and James Courtney, both set their best laps on pre-marked soft tyres.
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Moffat had three near-new set of softs at his disposal thanks to a puncture early in the Sunday race at Symmons Plains.
“What it all means is probably not much because we have to qualify on the hard tyre,” admitted Moffat after practice.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do on the hard, but the soft (of which one new set is allocated for Sunday’s race) was ok.”
Team-mate Rick Kelly, who set the 14th fastest time, believes that allowing both compounds among the allotment of 12 pre-marked tyres goes against the stated reasons for adding the new hards.
“It’s pretty comical that they give everyone a new set of tyres so that they know where they are at, but they still let us use softs,” he said.
“So we don’t really know where anyone’s at. It’s pretty funny.”
Courtney also expressed caution over the Holden Racing Team’s weekend prospects after only undertaking a short run on the new hards.
“We didn’t really get it together and do enough laps on the green hards, we went a bit long on the other ones,” he said.
“We didn’t get to show our outright speed…. but I think definitely we’re nowhere near a 1:23.0. I think those guys (Prodrive) are easily the benchmark.
“That thing is hooked up really well (and) we’re suffering a little bit with loaded drive coming out of the corner.
“We’ve got some development stuff in this weekend as we don’t have any testing now we have to test through days like this.
“So sometimes you end up running something in the car that you can’t take out so you’re wounded with it the whole day.”