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Waters sets the pace in first Townsville practice

Supercars
05 Jul
Ford star Cam Waters has hit the ground running at the NTI Townsville 500
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  • Cam Waters sets the pace in first Townsville practice

  • Waters leads Tickford one-two, with points leader Will Brown third

  • Cameron Hill the sole casualty with steering rack issue

Ford star Cam Waters has hit the ground running at the NTI Townsville 500, topping the timesheets in Friday’s first practice session.

The Tickford Racing driver set a 1:13.9706s in the opening minutes, and the lap remained the benchmark for the remainder of the 40-minute session.

Waters, a two-time race winner in Townsville, led Thomas Randle in a Tickford one-two, with championship leader Will Brown third.

The #6 Monster Energy Ford was the only car in the 24-car field to set a time in the 1:13s bracket, with Randle 0.1206s behind.

Championship combatants Broc Feeney and Chaz Mostert, meanwhile, were only 13th and 15th.

"Great session, we had a run plan and we stuck to that which was great, the car is really speedy so a great start to the weekend," Waters, who won in Perth, said.

"It's very blowy, but track conditions were pretty good considering how early we are into the weekend. It's trying to rain now, so we'll see if it rains or not.

"I just love street circuits in general, this one is pretty cool, it's got a little bit of everything. It just suits me for some reason, hopefully it suits me for the whole weekend."

Cars rolled out at Reid Park under overcast skies, and Waters emerged as the early pace-setter, first clocking a 1:14.6950s, before improving to a 1:14.1115s, and a a 1:13.9603s.

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Waters’ third lap went underneath the fastest time from the corresponding session from 2023, a 1:13.9706s set by then-Erebus driver Brown.

Randle made it a Tickford one-two with a 1:14.0809s, with Brown, James Courtney, Matt Payne, Andre Heimgartner, Anton De Pasquale, Bryce Fullwood, Brodie Kostecki and Macauley Jones rounding out the top 10.

Feeney, who briefly led the times, was 13th ahead of title hopeful Mostert, who was 19th before Walkinshaw Andretti United swung the changes on both cars. Mostert returned and improved, albeit to 15th, some 0.5817s off the pace.

mostert townsville 2024 practice 1

The rest of the session was headlined by fact-finding and race runs, with drivers and teams trying to get a head start ahead of the weekend’s two 88-lap, 250km races.

However, it wasn’t without incident — Courtney locked up and ran down the Turn 11 escape road, while Jones grazed the wall at the braking zone into Turn 4.

Earlier, Cameron Hill’s session came to an abrupt end after the #4 Team PPQ Chevrolet sustained a steering rack issue.

"It looks like we've done the steering rack,” Hill said.

"I think it was my third lap, I came through the fast chicane out the back, hit the kerb, and straight away you could just tell the rack was gone, it just turned the wheel all the way to the right.

"The boys are on it now, we've got a bit of time, at least I got a few laps in so that's something, so we should get the Team PPQ wagon back out there later today."

Brad Jones Racing driver Bryce Fullwood recorded the most laps of the session, 26, with Hill — who ended up 11th — just managing four laps.

Newly re-signed Nick Percat was only 20th, with Tim Slade and Jaxon Evans bringing up the rear of the field as rain began to fall over Townsville.

The Supercars field will return to the track in Townsville for Practice 2 at 3:10pm AEST.

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