Chaz Mostert has set the pace in a final practice session which was affected by drizzle at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.
Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon) was among five different drivers to hold the fastest lap in the last two minutes of Practice 3 alone as the light rain cleared, although the track remained damp.
His fastest lap of 1:10.3494s was enough to beat Nick Percat (#8 Coregas ZB Commodore) by 0.1022s while Michael Caruso (#23 Industrial Athlete Nissan Altima) finished third.
Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon) started off with a 1:12.0544s as all but Caruso ventured onto the Pukekohe circuit on wet tyres.
Shane van Gisbergen (#1 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore) brought the benchmark down to 1:11.2075s and sat atop the timing screen until Lee Holdsworth (#18 Preston Hire Racing ZB Commodore) snipped just under a tenth from that time not far past halfway through the 20-minute hit-out.
From then, it was van Gisbergen and then Holdsworth reclaiming the mantle, before Richie Stanaway (#56 Rabble.Club FGX Falcon), Percat, and finally Mostert went quickest.
“You can’t really necessarily have a good wet car and dry car, but sometimes you can be lucky with that,” said Mostert.
“Pretty much ran our dry set-up then (and the) car seemed to be pretty responsive in the wet; pretty excited about that.
“Obviously at the end part of the year there’s been no secret that we’re trying different things and trying to get the performance back in the car. Adam (De Borre, engineer) has done a pretty good job with that.
“Track was drier a little bit then so who was out on the last couple of laps had a time towards the front.
“It’s responding well, feels good under me so all good signs.”
Holdsworth was 0.2141s away from Mostert in fourth, ahead of Tim Slade (#14 Brad Jones Racing ZB Commodore) and Andre Heimgartner (#7 Plus Fitness Nissan Altima).
Stanaway, who had an early spin into Turn 5 and was nearly cleaned up by Coulthard as he lit up the Falcon to turn it around, ended up seventh, one position ahead of fellow New Zealander van Gisbergen.
“It’s like I remembered how to drive all of a sudden,” said Stanaway.
“Obviously pretty good run yesterday and continued that again today.
“Only practice so got to hope we can keep this up in qualifying with the mixed conditions out there for that session. It’s pretty hard to get a read but the car is feeling competitive.”
Coulthard, who finished 11th, confirmed that the two had a near-miss after Stanaway spun.
“If my car was black and matched the road I could understand it, but it’s pretty bright, pretty red, you definitely see me coming,” he quipped.
“It was a ‘shut my eyes’ moment, I definitely thought he was going to hit me. Thankfully he didn’t.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good car, it’s good to keep it straight.”
Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FGX Falcon) made for three Tickford Fords in the top 10 again in ninth, while Jamie Whincup (#1 Triple Eight ZB Commodore) was 10th.
Scott McLaughlin (#17 DJR Team Penske FGX Falcon) was 15th but unconcerned with the headline result.
“Look, it was normal, it’s what we can expect in the rain,” said McLaughlin.
“I’m pretty happy; in the end there just missed out on the lap but I actually feel pretty fast, just a matter of getting it all together.”
Of the Erebus Penrite cars, Anton De Pasquale (#99 ZB Commodore) was 14th and David Reynolds (#9 ZB Commodore) 19th.
Craig Lowndes (#888 National Storage ZB Commodore) completed only six laps on his way to 25th.
Both van Gisbergen and Whincup had offs at Turn 3/Turn 4 and nudged the tyre wall during proceedings, although it appeared that no major damage was done on either occasion.
Armor All Qualifying for Race 28 starts at 1340 local time/1140 AEDT.
Results: Practice 3
|1||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.3494|
|2||8||COREGAS NZ RACING||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.4516||0:00.1022|
|3||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:10.5414||0:00.1920|
|4||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5635||0:00.2141|
|5||14||COREGAS NZ RACING||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5639||0:00.2145|
|6||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:10.6519||0:00.3025|
|7||56||RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.7393||0:00.3899|
|8||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.7765||0:00.4271|
|9||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.9112||0:00.5618|
|10||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.9146||0:00.5652|
|11||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.9458||0:00.5964|
|12||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:10.9700||0:00.6206|
|13||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.0375||0:00.6881|
|14||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.0627||0:00.7133|
|15||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.1557||0:00.8063|
|16||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.1980||0:00.8486|
|17||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.2271||0:00.8777|
|18||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.3405||0:00.9911|
|19||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.3741||0:01.0247|
|20||21||Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.4296||0:01.0802|
|21||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:11.5323||0:01.1829|
|22||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.6371||0:01.2877|
|23||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.8290||0:01.4796|
|24||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore VF2||1:11.8496||0:01.5002|
|25||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.8745||0:01.5251|
|26||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.2435||0:01.8941|