McLaughlin fastest in chaotic Practice 1
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin emerged fastest from a wet and wild Practice 1 at the Winton SuperSprint.
Cars frequently slid off the slick surface during the 45 minutes as heavy rain set in at the rural Victorian venue.
Turn 1 was the most popular spot, with countless drivers locking up and spearing through the grass before rejoining on the run to Turn 3.
The biggest victim was Scott Pye, whose Mobil 1 HSV Commodore suffered session-ending rear damage when Nick Percat spun and made contact just 10 minutes in.
Times were initially marginally faster than the earlier additional driver session, with Todd Kelly setting a 1:43.68s at the 13 minute mark.
That stood as the fastest time for 20 minutes until McLaughlin finally went 0.3s quicker.
Red flags flew immediately after McLaughlin’s lap to recover Taz Douglas’ Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden from the Turn 3 gravel trap.
Conditions appeared to worsen during the brief stoppage, leaving McLaughlin unchallenged at the top of the order.
“It was sketchy,” said McLaughlin of the conditions.
“Going down the front straight I was aquaplaning from the last corner all the way to Turn 3.
“I just told Ludo (Lacroix, engineer) to bring it in. I knew the car was okay so it’s just a matter of not wanting to get any dents in it.”
Cameron Waters ended up third ahead of Rick Kelly, Shane van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, Percat, Chaz Mostert, Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth.
Many spent extended periods in their respective garages due to the severity of the conditions.
“The track’s just so icy,” said Percat during the red flag stoppage, explaining his contact with Pye.
“I put my foot on the brake and it locked. Unfortunately Scotty was there.
“I think our braking points might have been a bit different. Obviously we were about a second and a half a lap faster than him.
“I thought ‘there’s more expensive stuff at the front of it like an airbox, radiator and all that’, so I thought the driver’s door is the best option for us (to make contact with).
“I don’t know what happened to him, so sorry to Walkinshaw Racing, but you’re literally a passenger.
“The new surface, I think the oil is coming out the tar now so it’s like we’re on ice.
“I think we’re 10 seconds a lap slower than what we did a couple of years ago here in the wet so it’s keeping us on our toes.”
“It was a hard hit from inside the car,” added Pye, who is expected to return for the second session.
“It (the force) went straight through my back so it was a big hit.
“It’s crazy out there… it’s like ice. You breathe on the brake pedal and all of a sudden your lock-up lights are going off.
“Once the wheel has locked you’re not slowing down the car any more…. you’re just a passenger.”
Mostert’s Ford suffered minor rear bumper damage, with the Supercheap Auto driver suspecting that he was tagged by Fabian Coulthard.
Alex Rullo meanwhile escaped damage from what was arguably the most spectacular off, flying through the Turn 1 infield at high-speed in the early stages.
A second 45 minute session will take place from 2:40pm local time.
CLICK HERE for the full session result.