Winterbottom tops weather-affected opening practice

Mark Winterbottom

Mark Winterbottom has set the pace on a drying track in Practice 1 for the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend Motorsport Park.

The Team 18 driver guided the #18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore to a 1:50.4944s with the chequered flag out on the half-hour opening session for the Repco Supercars Championship field.

Shane van Gisbergen similarly improved late on, but the championship leader fell just shy of Winterbottom in clocking a 1:50.5335s in the #97 Red Bull Ampol ZB Commodore.

The most recent race winner, Chaz Mostert, ended up third in his #25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore, ahead of James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang) and Anton De Pasquale (#11 Shell V-Power Mustang).

The session began on a track left slippery from a shower earlier in the morning, and most of the field headed out on wet tyres.

Jamie Whincup (#88 Red Bull Ampol ZB Commodore) kicked things off with a 2:04.9006s, then a 2:03.0825s.

As he pitted, Tim Slade (#3 CoolDrive Mustang) moved the marker to a 2:03.0816s before Will Davison (#17 Shell V-Power Mustang), who was among the first to switch from wets to slicks, clocked a 2:02.1652s.

Davison backed that up with a 2:00.8306s next time around and, from there, all the pace was on slick tyres.

Mostert went to a 2:00.5540s just past the halfway mark, Davison responded with a 1:59.1434s, and Mostert grabbed top spot back with a 1:59.0734s.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver continued to make time, setting a 1:57.5342s and a 1:56.4291s on consecutive laps, before the fastest time was reset four times in the 23rd minute.

Nick Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore) clocked a 1:56.2935s, then van Gisbergen a 1:56.0766s, Andre Heimgartner (#7 Ned Mustang) a 1:56.0133s, and Whincup a 1:55.4387s.

Whincup and Percat were both threatening to go faster again when a red flag came in the 24th minute due to Courtney spinning at Turn 6 and beaching the #44 Tickford Racing entry.

With an obvious dry line having formed, the pace continued to step up when the field was unleashed onto the circuit again.

Davison was back on top with a 1:53.3645s but that stood for moments before van Gisbergen went to a 1:52.6990s.

Heimgartner then set a 1:52.2556s, Whincup a 1:51.5096s, and Mostert a 1:51.4412s despite a slide through the final corner.

Just before the chequered flag, van Gisbergen came through with a 1:51.3037s, Scott Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore) a 1:51.1124s, and Courtney subsequently a 1:50.9252s.

The last to advance the benchmark was Winterbottom, while van Gisbergen had been shuffled all the way back to eighth before he completed his final lap.

The Triple Eight Race Engineering driver bumped Mostert, who had just achieved a 1:50.6025s, back to third, ahead of Courtney, De Pasquale, Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), Davison, Will Brown (#9 Ozland Group Solutions ZB Commodore), Pye, and Slade.

A second covered the top 12, which was rounded out by Percat and Jack Le Brocq (#5 Truck Assist Mustang), while Whincup ended up 13th at 1.0152s off the pace on a 1:51.5096s.

For reference, a low- to mid-’48’ was the best pace in light rain during practice last year on the International Circuit.

Thomas Randle (#55 Castrol Mustang) was best of the two wildcards in 15th, with Kurt Kostecki (#27 Mobil 1 ZB Commodore) 24th in the 26-car field.

Practice 2, another 30-minute session, starts at 10:45 local time/11:15 AEST.

Results: Practice 1

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Fastest lap Split
1 18 IRWIN Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 1:50.4944  
2 97 Red Bull Ampol Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 1:50.5335 0:00.0391
3 25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 1:50.6025 0:00.1081
4 44 Boost Mobile Racing James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 1:50.6077 0:00.1133
5 11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Anton De Pasquale Ford Mustang GT 1:50.8267 0:00.3323
6 6 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 1:50.8559 0:00.3615
7 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 1:50.9271 0:00.4327
8 9 Erebus Motorsport William Brown Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.0655 0:00.5711
9 20 DEWALT Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.1124 0:00.6180
10 3 CoolDrive Racing Tim Slade Ford Mustang GT 1:51.1395 0:00.6451
11 8 R&J Batteries Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.2305 0:00.7361
12 5 Truck Assist Racing Jack Le Brocq Ford Mustang GT 1:51.3533 0:00.8589
13 88 Red Bull Ampol Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.5096 0:01.0152
14 96 Coca-Cola Racing Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.5852 0:01.0908
15 55 Castrol Racing Thomas Randle Ford Mustang GT 1:51.7333 0:01.2389
16 99 Erebus Boost Mobile Racing Brodie Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.8721 0:01.3777
17 14 TRG Transport Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 1:51.8985 0:01.4041
18 4 SCT Motor Sports Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 1:52.0563 0:01.5619
19 7 NED Whisky Racing Andre Heimgartner Ford Mustang GT 1:52.2556 0:01.7612
20 19 Local Legends Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore ZB 1:52.4400 0:01.9456
21 35 Yellow Cover Racing Zane Goddard Holden Commodore ZB 1:52.5194 0:02.0250
22 2 Mobil 1 Middy’s Racing Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 1:53.0638 0:02.5694
23 34 UNIT Racing Jake Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 1:53.6483 0:03.1539
24 27 Walkinshaw Andretti United Kurt Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 1:53.7254 0:03.2310
25 22 Team SYDNEY Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB 1:54.1781 0:03.6837
26 26 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Ford Mustang GT 1:57.7596 0:07.2652

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