Whincup fastest in opening Clipsal practice

Jamie Whincup pic: Supercars

Jamie Whincup topped the opening practice session of the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at the Clipsal 500.

The Red Bull Holden Team driver posted a 1:20.48s midway through the 40 minute session which stood until the chequered flag.

Whincup’s time on the soft tyres proved 0.3s faster than the best time set in the corresponding session last year on the older construction Dunlop tyres.

Reigning champion Shane van Gisbergen improved late in the session to jump into second just 0.12s adrift of his six-time champion Triple Eight team-mate.

After topping the times early in the session, Nissan’s Rick Kelly slotted into third ahead of new DJR Team Penske signing Scott McLaughlin.

McLaughlin is continuing to acclimatise to his new Ford Falcon FG X machine having made a small error on what would have been a strong lap.

“We had problems with that (grabbing both pedals) at the test day as well, just getting used to the pedal box and that with the new safety cell,” said McLaughlin.

“It’s fine, it’s no dramas, I just made a blue. The car is nice.

“We had a good qualifying car and a good race car I feel straight out of the box but lots of time to tune which is nice.”

Michael Caruso managed to pop his #23 Nissan Altima into fifth ahead of the Mobil 1 HSV Racing duo of Scott Pye and James Courtney respectively.

A late run from Cameron Waters put the Monster Energy Falcon into eighth ahead of Prodrive team-mate Mark Winterbottom.

The top 10 was completed by Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat on his debut for the Albury team.

The session ran largely without incident although several cars endured off-track excursions.

Garth Tander was the first of those after he ran off at Turn 11 in the Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Commodore.

The 2007 Supercars champion ended the session in 21st position while team-mate James Moffat was 15th.

This was followed by Simona de Silvestro and van Gisbergen, who both locked up before hitting the escape road at Turn 4.

Brad Jones Racing’s Tim Slade also ran off the road at Turn 12 towards the end of the session.

Craig Lowndes endured a quiet run in 20th position behind the wheel of the TeamVortex entry, while de Silvestro wound up 25th after an encouraging debut at the circuit.

“I really like (Clipsal) actually, it reminds me a lot of my IndyCar days,” said de Silvestro.

“I learned a lot, tried a few different braking points and stuff like that. For the second session we will put it a bit more together and hopefully be a little bit quicker.”

Meanwhile, teenager Alex Rullo lost valuable track time early in the session when his LDM Commodore developed seat vibration.

The 16-year-old, who is making his Supercars Championship debut, completed three laps before returning to the garage to allow the team to investigate the issue.

He did however return to the session where he eventually ended up in 26th position.

Taz Douglas clocked a time good enough for 23rd position on his first run in the #3 LDM Commodore having earned a last minute drive with the team.

The Supercars will return for a another 40 minute practice session at 1130 local time.

Results: Practice One – Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, 2017 Clipsal 500

1 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 01:20.4
2 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 01:20.5 00:00.1
3 Sengled Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 01:20.6 00:00.2
4 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG/X 01:20.7 00:00.3
5 Nissan Motorsport Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 01:20.7 00:00.3
6 Mobil 1 HSV Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore VF 01:20.7 00:00.3
7 Mobil 1 HSV Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 01:20.7 00:00.3
8 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Falcon FG/X 01:20.7 00:00.3
9 The Bottle-O Racing Team Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG/X 01:20.7 00:00.3
10 Team Clipsal Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 01:20.9 00:00.5
11 Erebus Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore VF 01:21.0 00:00.6
12 Preston Hire Racing Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VF 01:21.0 00:00.6
13 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG/X 01:21.1 00:00.7
14 Freightliner Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 01:21.1 00:00.7
15 Wilson Security Racing GRM James Moffat Holden Commodore VF 01:21.2 00:00.8
16 TEKNO Woodstock Racing Will Davison Holden Commodore VF 01:21.2 00:00.8
17 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG/X 01:21.3 00:00.9
18 Team CoolDrive Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VF 01:21.4 00:01.0
19 carsales Racing Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 01:21.5 00:01.1
20 Wilson Security Racing GRM Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 01:21.5 00:01.1
21 TeamVortex Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 01:21.6 00:01.2
22 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF 01:21.9 00:01.5
23 LD Motorsport Taz Douglas Holden Commodore VF 01:22.1 00:01.7
24 MEGA Racing Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG/X 01:22.4 00:02.0
25 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 01:23.0 00:02.6
26 LD Motorsport Alex Rullo Holden Commodore VF 01:24.1 00:03.7

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