Supercars drivers have enjoyed their final practice sessions around Mount Panorama ahead of Sunday’s Bathurst 1000 – although enjoyed might be too strong a word.
The tricky weather conditions that have caused chaos all through the week again caused plenty of problems in the two hour-long practice sessions ahead of the Top 10 Shootout on Saturday afternoon, with crashes continuing to mount up.
The co-drivers-only practice session on Saturday morning took less than 10 minutes to deliver a crash in the wet conditions – and there two more red flags in another hectic session.
But it was a rare relatively straightforward session in the afternoon as the rain eased, though it ended in yet another red flag.
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PRACTICE FIVE: SATURDAY CHAOS BEGINS
Tickford Racing’s Kurt Kostecki needed to use the safety road on Murray’s Corner inside the opening five minutes, and his nightmare session continued as he found the wall at Turn 2 soon afterwards on his way up the Mountain. Racing with brother Jake Kostecki, the pair are hoping to improve on their 13th-place finish in 2021.
Four-time Bathurst 1000 winner Jamie Whincup had gone top of the timesheets after the session resumed with a 2:27.266s only to slide into the wall at Turn 2 (Griffins Bend).
He was able to drive on after the car bounced out from the barriers but was unable to return to the track during the session, despite Whincup himself helping to repair the car.
It follows the shock decision for Whincup, now team principal at Red Bull Ampol Racing, to qualify instead of full-time driver Broc Feeney. Whincup managed just 14th.
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The third – and worst – major incident of the session saw Matt Stone Racing’s Aaron Seton (co-driving for Jack le Brocq) slam into the wall on the top of the Mountain, earning another red flag.
Bathurst veteran Michael Caruso, co-driving for Mark Winterbottom for Team 18, also locked up at The Chase and beached himself in the sodden dirt, another red flag ending the session early.
There were a number of other minor incidents.
The moment that cost SVG 3 positions! | 00:47
Young rookie Declan Fraser, driving with Craig Lowndes in a wildcard entry this weekend, required the escape road on the final corner as the slippery conditions tested the men on track. Alex Davison also copped rear brake locking on Murray’s Corner and took the escape road.
And Zane Goddard, co-driver for James Courtney at Tickford Racing, sent his car crashing through the mud after sliding off at The Chase but managed to regain the track.
Dale Wood finished fastest with a 2:26.222s (co-driving for Andre Heimgartner, who missed out on the top 10 shootout by one hundredth of a second). Fabian Coulthard was second, just 0.065s behind. Coulthard is co-driving for reigning Bathurst 1000 winner Chaz Mostert in the WAU entry.
Youngster Jordan Boys was an impressive third, rewarding the hard work of BJR’s mechanics to repair the car of Macauley Jones until the early hours of the morning after a crash with van Gisbergen.
There was another impressive young gun in the form of debutant Declan Fraser in fourth, the rookie partnering with veteran Craig Lowndes in the Supercheap Auto/Triple Eight wildcard.
PRACTICE SIX: SVG AND CHAZ DO BATTLE
In the improving conditions in the final practice session of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, Shane van Gisbergen and reigning Bathurst champion Chaz Mostert impressed with their early efforts.
But times tumbled in the final 10 minutes as drivers pushed to make a late statement. With a set of fresh tyres, Will Davison roared in front of Chaz Mostert’s pacesetting lap by half a second with a sensational 2:05.630s. Shell V-Power Racing’s other star driver Anton de Pasquale hit back shortly afterwards to also go under the 2 minute 6 second mark.
Van Gisbergen hit back with a 2:05.614s to go top with under two minutes to go, before Mostert replied with a sizzling 2:05.51s to blast back on top of the leaderboard.
While van Gisbergen was happy with his effort, Broc Feeney in the other Triple Eight entry struggled for pace again, managing just 16th.
David Reynolds ran wide at The Chase early, before Jordan Boys – co-driver for birthday boy Macauley Jones in the BJR entry – hit the wall then got beached in the dirt in the final couple of minutes, seeing a red flag end the session. The car had been damaged on Friday when van Gisbergen hit Jones in the dying minutes of qualifying, forcing BJR to repair the car until almost 2am AEDT overnight.
The Jack LeBrocq (Matt Stone Racing) entry failed to emerge for the session after co-driver Aaron Seton’s brutal crash in Saturday morning’s practice. Tim Slade also missed the session to complete repairs on an air jack issue.
The moment that cost SVG 3 positions! | 00:47