South Australian Tim Slade has set the pace in the first Supercars practice session at The Bend Motorsport Park.
Slade shot up the order with five minutes of the 45-minute session remaining, temporarily leaving him nearly a second faster than the field on a 1:50.1395s.
Brad Jones Racing team-mate Tim Blanchard and then Michael Caruso took up second position, while Shane van Gisbergen finished fourth.
Anton De Pasquale was fastest after the respective first flyers with a 1:52.8097s which was quickly knocked off by van Gisbergen.
David Reynolds and then Rick Kelly enjoyed spells on top, the latter being the first into the 1:51s, before De Pasquale went well clear at the time with a 1:51.0955s just beyond 20 minutes in.
For a while, the closest anyone could get was Will Davison, who improved twice in three laps but was still 0.7154s slower after 27 minutes.
Chaz Mostert got within two tenths before Slade moved from 16th to what was ultimately the fastest lap in the #14 Freightliner ZB Commodore.
“I guess it is only practice but it’s cool to have been able to top the first session here,” said Slade.
“I was hoping that our car was going to suit a circuit like this. They kind of have tended to like the new surface high grip tracks in the past.
“We played around with a bit of stuff and then we chucked a better set of tyres at the end there. Felt pretty good.
“(It’s a) Pretty interesting circuit. There’s a couple of wobbly moments and I spun at one point. I don’t know, I think it’s just because of the new surface and then the hard tyre as well doesn’t really feel as though it keys into the road all that well, so moves around quite a lot.”
Caruso was 0.1949s slower in the #23 Industrial Athlete Nissan Altima, and Blanchard another 0.1195s off the pace in the #21 CoolDrive ZB Commodore.
Van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore), Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore), and De Pasquale (#99 Erebus ZB Commodore) finished the session within a second of Slade’s best, although the latter did not improve in the second half of the session.
Rounding out the top 10 were Kelly (#15 Castrol Nissan Altima), Garth Tander (#33 Wilson ZB Commodore), Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon), and Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon).
Craig Lowndes (#888 Autobarn ZB Commodore) was 15th, Jamie Whincup (#1 Triple Eight ZB Commodore) 17th, and Scott McLaughlin (#17 DJR Team Penske FGX Falcon) 18th.
As predicted, many drivers went beyond the limits of the new circuit.
Nick Percat (#8 Mobil ZB Commodore) and McLaughlin each had fast offs, while Richie Stanaway (#56 Rabble.Club FGX Falcon) left the tarmac several times.
“It was loose,” said McLaughlin.
“I had some many offs I looked like an absolute gumby. I was just trying to find the limit and was just pushing too far.
“We ran a little bit of a race run there to understand the tyres and it seems as though they take a bit of time to switch on but once they do it blows over so it is very interesting.
“We know where to find our time in the car but we just didn’t want to throw a set of tyres at it when the car wasn’t that good.”
Percat’s session finished early due to a gearbox issue, leaving him at the very opposite end of the timesheet to team-mate and fellow South Australian Slade.
Macauley Jones (#4 DrillPro ZB Commodore) was faster of the two wildcards in 21st while Todd Hazelwood (#35 Bigmate) was 23rd in his first session back in his Super2 Series-winning VF Commodore.
Jason Bright spent the majority of the session in Lee Holdsworth’s #18 Preston Hire ZB Commodore ahead of his Pirtek Enduro Cup drive with the team and finished 24th-fastest.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship field will have another 45-minute practice session this afternoon at 1505 local time/1535 AEST.
Result: Supercars Practice 1
|1||14 Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:50.1395RS|
|2||23 Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:50.3344 S||00.1949|
|3||21 Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:50.4539 S||00.3144|
|4||97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:50.6727 S||00.5332|
|5||9 Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:51.0510 S||00.9115|
|6||99 Erebus Motorsport||Anton de Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:51.0955 S||00.9560|
|7||15 Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:51.2021 S||01.0626|
|8||33 Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:51.2205 S||01.0810|
|9||55 Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.2892 S||01.1497|
|10||12 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.3443 S||01.2048|
|11||7 Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:51.3479 S||01.2084|
|12||5 The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.3839 S||01.2444|
|13||6 Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.7612 S||01.6217|
|14||230 Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.8109 S||01.6714|
|15||888 Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:51.8501 S||01.7106|
|16||56 RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.8895 S||01.7500|
|17||1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:51.8922 S||01.7527|
|18||17 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:51.9486 S||01.8091|
|19||25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:52.0032 S||01.8637|
|20||78 Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:52.0041 S||01.8646|
|21||4 DrillPro Racing||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||1:52.1787 S||02.0392|
|22||34 Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:52.2488 S||02.1093|
|23||35 Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore VF||1:52.7063 S||02.5668|
|24||18 Preston Hire Racing||L.Holdsworth/J.Bright||Holden Commodore ZB||1:52.7254 S||02.5859|
|25||42 Arcoplate Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||1:52.7475 S||02.6080|
|26||19 Tekno Autosport||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:52.8152 S||02.6757|
|27||2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:53.0483 S||02.9088|
|28||8 X-Convenience – Mobil Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:53.3776 S||03.2381|