Lee Holdsworth has set the pace with a new practice record in the second Virgin Australia Supercars Championship session of the weekend at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
The Tickford Racing driver took the #5 The Bottle-O Mustang to a 1:01.6281s in the final three minutes of the half-hour second practice session on a circuit partially resurfaced since Supercars’ last visit.
Less than two tenths of a second separated first position from sixth once all the laps were completed, with Shane van Gisbergen the best of the rest in the #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore.
Championship leader Scott McLaughlin was seventh having missed nearly half the session due to an ignition problem under the bonnet of the #17 Shell V-Power Mustang.
Will Davison had already beaten the benchmark he set during Practice 1 in laying down a 1:02.4200s on his first flyer in the #23 Milwaukee Mustang and that time stood up as the fastest through the first runs.
Stablemate Holdsworth was the first to beat it with a 1:02.3008s before Jamie Whincup set a 1:02.2450s on his second push lap of the run in the #88 Triple Eight ZB Commodore.
McLaughlin, by then, had finally made it onto the circuit after DJR Team Penske installed a new starter motor in Car #17, then determined that the crank angle sensor was amiss.
The Kiwi’s Mustang lacked its usual stability as he initially put in a 1:02.4268s which left him ninth when the penultimate runs had come to an end.
Davison was first to break the old practice record, a 1:02.1183s from Whincup dating back to 2016, when he then logged a 1:01.7917s.
His new marker did not last long, however, as Holdsworth put in his fastest lap to move back up from fourth position to first, where he would stay.
“It was lit! Car’s good,” exclaimed Holdsworth.
“We did some changes there and really it came alive.
“We came out with a pretty good base car, but we’ve just been searching for that little bit extra just to get us up in that top three recently because it’s just been outside of it.
“No, it’s good. I feel like we’ve really found something now. We’ll wait and see though.
“That’s always nice to know that everyone’s on the same tyres but this track is super quick at the moment and it’s only going to get faster and faster,” he added, regarding there being no pre-marked tyres taken overseas to New Zealand.
“With the new surface down at Sector 1, it’s super quick.
“I’m stoked, I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the weekend but we just need to carry it through now.”
Van Gisbergen ended up 0.1477s back with a flyer just prior to the chequered flag, after which he locked the rears and ran off at the Hairpin.
Davison was third, from David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore), Nick Percat (#8 NZ Safety Blackwoods ZB Commodore), and Whincup.
Of his unsettled car, McLaughlin said: “Initially the turn is really good but just I don’t have enough in the middle.
“But the problem is when it’s been so good in the initial I get quite loose, so it’s quite snappy on exit. There’s something to work on.
“Obviously didn’t get as many laps in as we wanted but it’s alright.”
All of the fast running came towards the end despite some sunshine starting to appear in Pukekohe, with Anton De Pasquale (#99 Erebus ZB Commodore) finishing the session in eighth, from Fabian Coulthard (#12 DJR Team Penske Mustang) and Scott Pye (#2 Mobil 1 ZB Commodore), the last of those under the old practice record.
Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang) was 12th, one position ahead of Tickford team-mate Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), who was unscathed despite once dropping two wheels off at the exit of the final corner then putting all four on the grass right at the end.
Richie Stanaway was not so fortunate in Practice 1, when he got all the way to the wall, but was back on track to put his #33 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore 15th on the timesheet.
The ITM Auckland SuperSprint continues tomorrow with Practice 3 at 1120 local time/0920 AEST, followed by Armor All Qualifying for Race 23 at 1355 local time/1155 AEST.
Results: Practice 2
|1||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||1:01.6281|
|2||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:01.7758||0:00.1477|
|3||23||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||1:01.7917||0:00.1636|
|4||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:01.8040||0:00.1759|
|5||8||NZ Safety Blackwoods Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:01.8056||0:00.1775|
|6||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:01.8208||0:00.1927|
|7||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||1:01.9290||0:00.3009|
|8||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.0084||0:00.3803|
|9||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||1:02.0374||0:00.4093|
|10||2||Mobil 1 Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.0714||0:00.4433|
|11||14||Machinery House Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.1462||0:00.5181|
|12||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Mustang GT||1:02.1772||0:00.5491|
|13||6||Monster Energy Racing Team||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||1:02.3330||0:00.7049|
|14||22||Mobil 1 Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.3674||0:00.7393|
|15||33||Boost Mobile Racing||Richie Stanaway||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.4362||0:00.8081|
|16||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:02.5137||0:00.8856|
|17||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.5172||0:00.8891|
|18||18||Irwin Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.5185||0:00.8904|
|19||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:02.5889||0:00.9608|
|20||34||Boost Mobile Racing||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.5889||0:00.9608|
|21||3||RABBLE.club Racing||Garry Jacobson||Nissan Altima||1:02.6077||0:00.9796|
|22||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:02.7337||0:01.1056|
|23||21||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||1:02.7611||0:01.1330|
|24||19||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:03.3693||0:01.7412|