Simona de Silvestro believes that she would have ‘easily’ earned a bye to the second part of qualifying for Race 7 but for an error on her fastest practice lap.
De Silvestro finished practice just 0.0303s outside the top 10 in 11th position, and the leading Nissan Motorsport driver.
The Swiss had vaulted from last to ninth in the final 10 minutes after earlier bringing out a red flag when she bunkered the Harvey Norman Altima at the hairpin.
She was subsequently bumped by James Courtney before Tim Slade did just enough to make 10th position and deny Car #78 a free pass to Part 2 of the following day’s qualifying.
De Silvestro expressed a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment after practice.
“(The off at the hairpin) put us a little bit behind but I felt pretty comfortable with the car and we tried a few little things, some were good, some not so good,” she recounted.
“We kind of used what was best and at the end we got a pretty good lap time out of it even though I made a bit of a mistake into Turn 1, but there are things to learn from for tomorrow to do even a bit better.
“It’s a bit of a shame we missed out by just one position, a bit frustrating, but if I didn’t have that mistake I think we would have been easily in the top 10.
“I think we still have good pace even though we haven’t managed to get through that new format.
“I think we’re in pretty good shape and the car has been pretty good so far so things are starting to click with Chris (Stuckey, new engineer for 2018), so that’s a good thing.”
The result also cost her a golden opportunity to better her personal best Supercars qualifying performance.
De Silvestro qualified 14th for Race 7 of last year’s Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Barbagallo and the new qualifying format being used this weekend guarantees a top 16 start (before accounting for any penalties) for those drivers who earn direct passage to Part 2 of qualifying.
The 29-year-old now has to progress from the first 10-minute part of qualifying to have that chance.
“It’s a bit annoying now because we have to do the whole thing again,” she said when asked about her thoughts on the format.
“If we would have been in the 10 we would have been fine, worst would have been 16th, but we have a bit of work ahead of us for tomorrow.
“It is what it is, it’s just qualifying is what counts.”
In an extremely tight day of practice, Michael Caruso was next-fastest of the Nissan quartet in 14th ahead of Rick Kelly in 16th.
Caruso was only 0.0326s slower than de Silvestro, with Kelly a slightly larger margin further adrift, while Andre Heimgartner ended up 21st.