A last gasp effort from Jamie Whincup saw the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver top the first primary driver practice session at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint.
The reigning champion saved his best until the dying moments of the 45 minute session to end up at the head of the timesheets.
Whincup posted a 1:09.39s lap which eclipsed Rick Kelly who had led the running for the majority of the hit out.
Kelly was 0.12s shy of Whincup with Triple Eight’s Craig Lowndes third ahead of the #23 Nissan Motorsport entry of Michael Caruso.
“We structured the session a little bit differently,” said Kelly.
“We went on the better tyre we had at the start and then did two long race runs to try and improve that, because you would have seen at Townsville that was our weakness.
“Frustrated because we would have ended up quickest but we know little Percat down the road doesn’t like to play the same game as everyone else and we had the headlights shining behind him and didn’t get out of the way.
“There was probably a little bit of time in that run. Obviously the car is quick on the one lap but we’ve still got to find a little bit for the race.”
The session began under overcast skies before rain showers hit after four minutes of running, which forced the majority of the field into pit lane.
Lowndes had set the early pace with a 1:10.24s from Scott Pye (#2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing) and Shane van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team) before the interruption.
Once the weather cleared the action continued after a five minute delay.
Lowndes quickly adapted to the change in track surface condition to better his previous benchmark by more than half a second.
His time at the top was short-lived as Scott McLaughlin (#17 Shell V-Power Racing) eclipsed Lowndes before the former was then pipped by Nissan Motorsport’s Kelly by a tenth.
The Winton race winner’s time stood until Whincup struck late on.
It proved to be a strong session for Nissan as Caruso end up 0.17s shy of Whincup in an Altima that underwent repairs at the circuit until 2130 last night to fix damage incurred from a crash at Townsville two weeks ago.
“Full credit to everybody in our team,” said Caruso.
“I mean, every body at Drive Racing, we’re one big group here and everybody got stuck in – I mean, they were on the angle grinder last night at 8 o’clock.
“When you’re talking about a crash that’s well in excess of 25G, a lot of damage, to turn it around in a couple weeks and have the car where it is, I’m very proud of them.”
David Reynolds was fifth in the #9 Erebus Motorsport Holden after escaping an off-track excursion at Turn 3 early in the session.
Championship leader McLaughlin could only manage sixth, while the top 10 was completed by Chaz Mostert (#55 Tickford Racing), Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Racing), Richie Stanaway (#56 Tickford Racing) and Pye.
Pye’s team-mate James Courtney ended up 16th after suffering from a fuel leak that required a repair mid-session.
Meanwhile, Shane van Gisbergen was only 11th ahead of Tickford Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, who was 19th in what proved to be a mixed opening practice for the Ford squad.
Wildcard runner Kurt Kostecki propped up the timesheets in the Kostecki Brothers Racing VF Commodore.
Kostecki was only able to complete five laps of running after suffering from a clutch issue early in the running.
The Supercars field will return to the track for Practice 2 at 1435 AEST.
Results: Supercars Practice 1
|1||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.3904|
|2||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:09.5154||0:00.1250|
|3||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.5655||0:00.1751|
|4||23||Drive Racing||M.Caruso/D.Fiore||Nissan Altima||1:09.5673||0:00.1769|
|5||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.5932||0:00.2028|
|6||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:09.6173||0:00.2269|
|7||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:09.6317||0:00.2413|
|8||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:09.6667||0:00.2763|
|9||56||RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:09.7519||0:00.3615|
|10||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.7802||0:00.3898|
|11||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.8000||0:00.4096|
|12||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.8222||0:00.4318|
|13||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.8451||0:00.4547|
|14||8||Summit Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.8879||0:00.4975|
|15||120||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:09.9321||0:00.5417|
|16||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.9698||0:00.5794|
|17||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:09.9999||0:00.6095|
|18||99||Erebus Motorsport||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.0389||0:00.6485|
|19||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||M.Winterbottom/D.Canto||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.0807||0:00.6903|
|20||21||Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.1202||0:00.7298|
|21||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:10.1615||0:00.7711|
|22||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.1916||0:00.8012|
|23||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.2558||0:00.8654|
|24||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.2741||0:00.8837|
|25||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:10.3353||0:00.9449|
|26||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.4365||0:01.0461|
|27||42||Arcoplate Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||1:12.5497||0:03.1593|