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Bates pips Allen in action-packed Townsville practice

Dunlop Series
05 Jul
Walkinshaw Andretti United rising star Zach Bates has picked up where he left off in Perth
3 mins by Zac Dowdell
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  • Perth round winner continues strong form for WAU

  • Early red flag after Max Vidau crashes due to a stuck throttle

  • Several drivers pushing the limits in Townsville

Walkinshaw Andretti United rising star Zach Bates has picked up where he left off in Perth, topping the opening practice session in Townsville.

The Perth round winner set a 1:14.8631s, just over two tenths quicker than the fastest time from the corresponding session in 2023, a 1:15.0343s set by Matt Chahda.

Bates led series leader Kai Allen, who was only 0.0650s behind in his Eggleston Motorsport Commodore, with teammate Cameron Crick rounding out the top three.

The unforgiving streets of Townsville claimed their first victim of the weekend just seven minutes into the session as Max Vidau nosed the Anderson Motorsport Mustang into the tyres at Turn 8.

"The throttle jammed on, can't say that's ever happened to me before,” Vidau said after returning to pit lane.

"Weird place to do it, probably a lucky place to do it, a real slow point of the track. Got the tyres, looks a whole lot worse than what it is.

“Just annoying, obviously P1 and got one lap in. We’ll be right, we’ll fight back."

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Vidau would not return for the remainder of the session, having only done one lap before the incident occurred.

Bates carried his Perth form over into the early stanza of Practice 1, setting a 1:14.9329s on his third lap, with Crick joining him in the 1:14s bracket.

After the brief red flag, points leader Allen and Tickford driver Brad Vaughan joined Bates and Crick in the 1:14s bracket to go second and fourth respectively.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Bates, who would have an awkward moment with Dean Fiore at Turn 11, though both would carry on without damage.

That wasn’t the only close call in the session, as Callum Walker would have two separate off track tours at the exit of Turn 6, and Zane Morse would have a lurid spin entering the final hairpin at Turn 12.

The fast times in the session were all set in the first half of the 40-minute session under gloomy skies, with Bates heading Allen, Crick, Vaughan, and Cooper Murray in the top five.

Jack Perkins was sixth for the returning Blanchard Racing Team, ahead of Jordyn Sinni, Lochie Dalton, Jobe Stewart, and Campbell Logan.

Aaron Cameron, who entered the weekend second in points, was 11th, ahead of Cameron McLeod, who had a trouble free run in his rebuilt Commodore following the spectacular accident in the final race in Perth.

Thomas Maxwell was the fastest Super3 runner in 15th outright on a 1:16.0476s, though had a close call with Elliott Cleary whilst rejoining the racing line after a lock up at turn eleven.

Practice 2 for the Dunlop Series takes place at 1:15pm AEST on the streets of Townsville.

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