Supercars Championship leader Scott McLaughlin has returned to the top of the timesheets in Practice 2 for the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.
McLaughlin was only 15th in the opening 40-minute session of the day but found 1.1s in the afternoon hit-out to end the day fastest with a 1:10.4756s.
Outgoing champion Jamie Whincup was within a tenth of the man who he beat to the title in 2017, while McLaughlin’s current challenger, Shane van Gisbergen, was seventh.
McLaughlin’s fast lap came relatively early in the session, just over 10 minutes in on his second run, with relatively new tyres.
His #17 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon again underwent a damper change before a final run but, even with brand new tyres, he did not find any more pace.
“I felt like even on my (fastest) lap, my green tyre before I went a little bit wide at (Turn) 2; out of (Turn) 1 I was fast, that was (faster) than I’ve been all day.
“It’s interesting whether the track did go away at other areas, but overall, we’ve had a really good day, everything feels alright.
“The time that we did with the 1:10.4s, we found a combination that we really liked and then we went away and tried a few other things. Then we’ve come back.
“Even though there was lots of springs and dampers and Ludo (Lacroix, engineer) was doing his head in, everything was pretty good and we tried everything that we wanted to.
“It’s going to be all about qualifying here, the race is going to be a long race and track position is key and that’s what we’re working on.”
Whincup edged up from third to second in the final minute in the #1 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore at 0.0870s off the pace, while Cameron Waters (#100 Monster Energy FGX Falcon) was almost the same margin further back again in third position.
A tenth of a second covered the next seven cars, with Fabian Coulthard (#12 DJR Team Penske FGX Falcon) fourth at a 0.3105s split to the leader.
James Courtney (#25 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore) was fifth and Nick Percat (#8 Timken ZB Commodore) sixth.
Van Gisbergen scuffed the #97 Triple Eight ZB Commodore on a wall on his way to seventh, 0.3586s slower than McLaughlin.
Eighth through 10th were David Reynolds (#9 Erebus Penrite ZB Commodore), Scott Pye (#2 Walkinshaw Andretti United ZB Commodore), and Anton De Pasquale (#99 Erebus ZB Commodore).
Practice 1 fast man Lee Holdsworth (#18 Preston Hire ZB Commodore) was 11th, Craig Lowndes (#888 Autobarn ZB Commodore) 12th, and Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon) first of the Tickford Fords in 13th.
The former was, however, still fifth on combined times having been the only driver to fail to improve since the earlier session.
There were mechanical problems for the Nissan Motorsport entries of Rick Kelly (#15 Castrol Nissan Altima) and Simona de Silvestro (#78 Harvey Norman Nissan Altima), namely power steering and engine respectively.
Again, there were no red flags, although Richie Stanaway did hit with the wall exiting Turn 7 which required him to bring the #56 Rabble.Club FGX Falcon into the garage.
He finished the session in 24th position.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues with Armor All Qualifying for Race 30 tomorrow at 1135 local time/AEDT.
Results: Practice 2
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.4756|
|2||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5626||0:00.0870|
|3||100||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.6473||0:00.1717|
|4||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.7861||0:00.3105|
|5||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8220||0:00.3464|
|6||8||Timken Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8332||0:00.3576|
|7||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8342||0:00.3586|
|8||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8478||0:00.3722|
|9||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8506||0:00.3750|
|10||99||Erebus Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8570||0:00.3814|
|11||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8899||0:00.4143|
|12||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8929||0:00.4173|
|13||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.9099||0:00.4343|
|14||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:10.9944||0:00.5188|
|15||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.0011||0:00.5255|
|16||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:11.0815||0:00.6059|
|17||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.0951||0:00.6195|
|18||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:11.1056||0:00.6300|
|19||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.1316||0:00.6560|
|20||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:11.1489||0:00.6733|
|21||21||Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.1767||0:00.7011|
|22||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.2167||0:00.7411|
|23||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.3493||0:00.8737|
|24||56||RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:11.3786||0:00.9030|
|25||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.4255||0:00.9499|
|26||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore VF2||1:11.4627||0:00.9871|