McLaughlin leads the way in final practice
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Scott McLaughlin has his sights set on a fifth ARMOR ALL Pole Award of the season after topping final practice at the Winton SuperSprint.
Following a Friday marred by wet weather, dry and sunny conditions greeted the drivers for today’s 45 minute session.
Times improved slowly throughout as drivers ran through their condensed practice programs before McLaughlin clocked his 1:19.59s with 12 minutes remaining.
Set on used tyres, the time put McLaughlin 0.6s clear of the field – a margin that stood until Chaz Mostert pulled up just 0.09s short on his flyer with 90 seconds to go.
Similarly late efforts saw the Holdens of Shane van Gisbergen and Tim Slade demote Friday pace-setter Nick Percat to fifth.
Unusually, McLaughlin’s final run on new tyres failed to better his previous benchmark.
“It was weird. I think everyone had the same dramas,” said McLaughlin.
“I think we picked up a bit of understeer on the green set but you generally get that.
“We’ve got to look and study it to make sure we get the greens right.
“It’s still quite dirty on the track but it’s reasonably quick. It’s a challenge for sure.”
Mark Winterbottom was sixth after also failing to improve late ahead of Michael Caruso, Garth Tander, Fabian Coulthard and David Reynolds.
A spin into the gravel between turns six and seven for James Golding triggered an early red flag, only for the wildcard driver to rejoin without assistance.
The Garry Rogers Motorsport youngster ended up 22nd, ahead of Triple Eight stars Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
Lowndes admitted that he struggled for balance with his TeamVortex Holden, even on a new tyre.
“We just can’t get the front and rear to match together,” he said.
“It’s quite a technical track to get the flow right. We hoped that the new tyre would hide that but it didn’t.
“It’s a shame that we missed out on yesterday running in the wet but we’ll have a look at what Shane has got and go from there.”
Qualifying for today’s Race 9 of the season will get underway at 1:25pm local time.
CLICK HERE for the full Practice 3 result.