Tough start for defending champs

  • 06/10/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

2015 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winners Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards have started on the wrong foot at Mount Panorama.

The TeamVortex drivers were down the order in the three hour-long practice sessions, recording 23rd, 26th and 14th while teammates Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell topped every session between them.

An off at The Chase damaged the #888 Holden Commodore early, making it a rocky start for the pair.

Lowndes believes they are back on track after a productive last hour, but it wasn’t the first day they had wanted.

"It was a challenging day. It was probably one of the hardest Bathurst lead-ins we've had for a while,” Lowndes said.

“I think that both Steve and I really just weren't comfortable in the car and of course with that it's hard to get a lap time around this place because it's all about confidence.”

Richards’ session was the low point, with the four-time Bathurst winner 26th, 2.26 seconds slower than Dumbrell.

“First practice didn't go to plan. I had an off and bent the front of the car, so that didn't help,” Lowndes said.

“Richo had a pretty solid run and then practice three was really good for us and we made a lot of headway into the problems we've been facing.

“We obviously put on a green tyre like everyone else and we still were lacking a little bit of pace, but from where we were after practice one, I think we're a lot closer than where we were.”

The last session was productive for the team, though they will be looking for more overnight and to learn from their teammates’ efforts. 

“The car is now comfortable to drive, I'm confident in it,” he said.

“There's probably a bit more speed in the car and a bit more in me as well. I'm really happy with the way we ended the day considering where we started."

Whincup recorded an impressive 2min05.2946sec lap in the final session, with two hour-long practice runs before qualifying.

Last year the pair qualified 15th before taking the win at the end of the day.

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