Shane van Gisbergen has set the pace as the three Triple Eight Holdens finished in the top four in the first practice session for the Watpac Townsville 400.
He and fellow title contender David Reynolds moved up the timesheets in the final two minutes of the 40-minute affair to finish first and second, 0.0768s apart.
They usurped Craig Lowndes, who ended up another 0.1658s behind, while Jamie Whincup ended up fourth-fastest.
Whincup was fastest until the 34th minute in the #1 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore, at which time he had improved his first sector multiple times but not been able to lap any faster in total than his second flyer.
Lowndes then moved from ninth to first with a 1:12.9126s which remained his fastest despite a subsequent front-end tweak to the #888 Autobarn ZB Commodore.
Whincup did improve in the final three minutes to briefly lead again before he was bumped back by van Gisbergen’s (#97 ZB Commodore) 1:12.6700s and then Reynolds’ effort.
“It’s just practice, but we had decent tyres,” said van Gisbergen.
“(The) Car felt pretty good, we’re all up there from the start so that’s a good sign. Now just keep up with the track.”
Reynolds had a minor drama early on when a loose fitting caused a power steering failure for the #9 Erebus Penrite ZB Commodore, but the last-start winner was back among the front-runners by the halfway point.
“We had a little small steering failure,” confirmed Reynolds.
“(The) Steering went heavy so we came in and reconnected it and re-bled it. It was alright, just lost the first couple of runs.”
Rick Kelly sat as high as second before settling in fifth in the #15 Castrol Nissan Altima, one position ahead of James Courtney (#25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore).
Chaz Mostert was first of the Ford in seventh in the #55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon, while the top 10 was rounded out by Andre Heimgartner (#7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima), Scott Pye (#2 Walkinshaw Andretti United ZB Commodore), and Lee Holdsworth (#18 Preston Hire ZB Commodore).
Jack Le Brocq (#19 Tekno Autosports ZB Commodore) ended up 11th having sat third during the middle of the session.
Championship leader Scott McLaughlin was only 12th in the #17 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon while team-mate Fabian Coulthard (#12 FGX Falcon) was 10 positions further back.
“We just ran the one (tyre) set and had an idea of where the track was at the first couple of runs,” said McLaughlin.
“We did our time and then did probably a 15-lap stint there.
“It’s important and obviously we know the degradation over the last few rounds has been a bit different. It felt alright.”
Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FGX Falcon) was 21st, rounding out the Tickford Racing contingent.
The session ran uninterrupted, with a scrape of the wall for James Golding (#34 Wilson Security ZB Commodore) the most noteworthy incident aside from Reynolds’ early problem.
A second 40-minute practice session is due to start at 1500 local time/AEST.
Results: Supercars Watpac Townsville 400 Practice 1
|1||97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.6700*SS|
|2||9 Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.7468 SS||00.0768|
|3||888 Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.9126 SS||00.2426|
|4||1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.0625 SS||00.3925|
|5||15 Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:13.0784 SS||00.4084|
|6||25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.1252 SS||00.4552|
|7||55 Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.1285 SS||00.4585|
|8||7 Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:13.1758 SS||00.5058|
|9||2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.2282 SS||00.5582|
|10||18 Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.2284 SS||00.5584|
|11||19 Tekno Autosport||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.2850 SS||00.6150|
|12||17 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.2955 SS||00.6255|
|13||8 Dunlop Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.3060 SS||00.6360|
|14||230 Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.4680 SS||00.7980|
|15||6 Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.5258 SS||00.8558|
|16||99 Erebus Penrite Racing||Anton de Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.5300 SS||00.8600|
|17||14 Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.5455 SS||00.8755|
|18||23 Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:13.5796 SS||00.9096|
|19||56 RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.6571 SS||00.9871|
|20||33 Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.7278 SS||01.0578|
|21||5 The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.7657 SS||01.0957|
|22||12 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.8154 SS||01.1454|
|23||35 Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.8732 SS||01.2032|
|24||78 Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:14.0501 SS||01.3801|
|25||21 Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:14.2592 SS||01.5892|
|26||34 Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:14.6138 SS||01.9438|