Triple Eight in better place than qualifying suggests

Triple Eight Race Engineering’s #88 ZB Commodore

Red Bull Ampol Racing says it is more competitive than its qualifying performance at the Repco Bathurst 1000 suggests.

Shane van Gisbergen was almost a second off the pace set in the Top 10 Shootout by Chaz Mostert, who claimed pole by breaking the practice/qualifying lap record with a 2:03.3736s.

Van Gisbergen was originally seventh-quickest, although either he or co-driver Garth Tander will start from fifth tomorrow after the two Erebus Motorsport entries were disqualified from the session.

In the other Triple Eight Race Engineering entry, Jamie Whincup did not make the shootout at all, with the #88 ZB Commodore which he is sharing with Craig Lowndes to take up 11th on the grid.

According to team manager Mark Dutton, that is not reflective of how its cars will race.

“That was an amazing lap by Chaz and the team, so congratulations on that one; that was cool, that was good to watch,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“You always want to get pole at Bathurst, but at the same time, it is the least important race to have pole.

“You still want it, so I’m not trying to downplay it at all, but we’ve definitely had a focus on race car and race pace.

“We think we’re placed quite well, so come the race, hopefully that can pay dividends, the work we’ve done more so on a race car than a quali car.”

At Walkinshaw Andretti United, not only did Mostert set the fastest time ever recorded in a Supercar around Mount Panorama, but co-driver Lee Holdsworth also looked quick on race runs in Practice 5, hours earlier.

Dutton believes, however, that Triple Eight can keep up with Car #25 in tomorrow’s 161-lapper.

“They’re going to be very strong, very strong,” he admitted.

“We think we can match them; we think we’ve got a car that, if we work together well as a team throughout the whole day, we can be on the top step [of the podium].”

Meanwhile, it is believed that the vibration which affected Car #88 in the past two days has been resolved, the issue having been traced back to bodywork.

That came after the crew inserted spacing material in a door during Practice 5, when Lowndes was in the pits to have the problem looked at.

“It was just a bit of aero vibration,” explained Dutton.

“Happens because we go faster here than we go anywhere else, so it’s just making sure there’s no panting panels or anything like that.”

Asked if they expected any further dramas, Dutton replied, “It’s a long race; hopefully not.

“I mean, it wasn’t a big drama anyway, but it still just wasn’t quite perfect and obviously you want to try and start as close to perfect as you can.”

Triple Eight is fielding three cars this weekend, with Broc Feeney putting the wildcard Supercheap Auto ZB Commodore which he is sharing with Russell Ingall into 15th on the grid.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will next be on-track for the Warm Up at 09:10 local time/AEDT.

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