Cameron Waters has come out on top as the wick was turned up in the final practice session for the Vodafone Gold Coast 600.
The Tickford Racing driver went on what appeared to be a slightly early Armor All Qualifying simulation and duly delivered a 1:09.9534s in the #6 Monster Energy Mustang.
Shane van Gisbergen came close near the end of the session but fell 0.0935s short, while his Red Bull Holden Racing Team team-mate Jamie Whincup was ultimately only 0.0500s slower again.
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship leader Scott McLaughlin appeared to waste the best of his new tyres with a kerb strike and could only manage a somewhat subpar seventh, at 0.3474s off the pace.
While Will Davison (#23 Milwaukee Mustang) started off with a 1:11.0388s, Whincup needed only two laps to set the then-fastest day with a 1:10.3126s in the #888 ZB Commodore, which beat his Practice 1 pace-setter by almost three tenths of a second.
Chaz Mostert soon crossed the stripe in a time just 0.0049s slower in the #55 Supercheap Auto Mustang, before a red flag was called in the 12th minute for water on the race track at the exit of Turn 3.
“Crazy stuff,” declared Whincup during the stoppage.
“I think someone’s emptied the bath and it’s ended up on the track. I’ve come around and all of a sudden the track is wet and it’s all out of control.
“It was only last week that we were in the fence from something unlucky, you know…”
A hose in a garden behind the inside wall was reportedly believed to be the cause, but the session resumed after a delay of almost six minutes.
Van Gisbergen took the #97 ZB Commodore to a 1:10.2231s shortly after the restart, and it took nearly 10 minutes for that time to be bettered.
That was done by Waters with five minutes to go in the session and plenty of qualifying simulations to come.
David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore) jumped from outside the top 10 into second on a 1:10.1192s before van Gisbergen moved closer with a 1:10.0469s on somewhat used tyres.
However, Waters’ 1:09.9534s stood up as the best of the half-hour, late afternoon hit-out, with Whincup moving to third as he took the chequered flag.
“We weren’t really running the best tyre through the session,” said Waters.
“We put a good tyre on and I think it’s more in my just trusting the car’s going to do its job. There’s a little bit more in it.
“The car’s pretty comfortable to drive. Caruse (co-driver Michael Caruso) was really happy in his session. We’re thereabouts.”
On using the kerbs, he added, “I was pretty hungry, but I was safe as well, so I didn’t flag any sensors which was cool.
“But you’ve got to be on the limit here every lap to be fast. I think it was every run I had the mirror pushed in, and asked the boys to pull it back out.
“I don’t know, might actually put a little spring on that to push it back out tomorrow.”
Reynolds was shuffled back to fourth, ahead of two more Tickford Racing entries in the #5 The Bottle-O Mustang of Lee Holdsworth and the #55 Mustang of Mostert.
McLaughlin picked up a kerb strike at the Beach Chicane on a qualifying sim and while he went fastest to the first sector on his following lap, the time went away in the following sectors and he broke the beam at a 1:10.3008s.
Rounding out the top 10 were Mobil 1 Racing team-mates Scott Pye (#2 ZB Commodore) and James Courtney (#22 ZB Commodore, and Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Mustang).
Top Nissan driver was Andre Heimgartner in 11th in the #7 Plus Fitness Altima at 0.5482s off the pace, while Brodie Kostecki propped up the timesheet in the wildcard #56 Boost Mobile Kostecki ZB Commodore.
The next session is Armor All Qualifying for Race 26, tomorrow from 0940 local time/1040 AEDT.
Results: Practice 3
|1||6||Monster Energy Racing Team||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||1:09.9534|
|2||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.0469||0:00.0935|
|3||888||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.0969||0:00.1435|
|4||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.1192||0:00.1658|
|5||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.1758||0:00.2224|
|6||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.2938||0:00.3404|
|7||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.3008||0:00.3474|
|8||2||Mobil 1 Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.3258||0:00.3724|
|9||22||Mobil 1 Racing||J.Courtney/J.Perkins||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.3568||0:00.4034|
|10||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.3871||0:00.4337|
|11||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:10.5016||0:00.5482|
|12||23||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||1:10.5872||0:00.6338|
|13||18||Irwin Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.5872||0:00.6338|
|14||8||Freightliner Alliance Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.7744||0:00.8210|
|15||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.8571||0:00.9037|
|16||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||1:10.9213||0:00.9679|
|17||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:11.0357||0:01.0823|
|18||19||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||J.Le Brocq/J.Webb||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.0691||0:01.1157|
|19||33||Boost Mobile Racing||Richie Stanaway||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.1799||0:01.2265|
|20||14||Freightliner Alliance Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.2449||0:01.2915|
|21||21||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.3615||0:01.4081|
|22||3||RABBLE.club Racing||Garry Jacobson||Nissan Altima||1:11.4485||0:01.4951|
|23||34||Boost Mobile Racing||J.Golding/R.Muscat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:11.4954||0:01.5420|
|24||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:11.6822||0:01.7288|
|25||56||Boost Mobile Kostecki Brothers||Brodie Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.1103||0:02.1569|