Wet weather challenged co-drivers participating in the first 30 minutes of the opening practice sessions at the Winton 360, but experience prevailed and topped the timesheets.
Supercheap Auto Racing’s Russell Ingall, celebrating his ‘Last Stand’ at the rural Victorian circuit, shot to the top of the times after the chequered flag had been waved with a 1min34.0278sec.
Ingall and Craig Lowndes had been trading times with young guns Scott Pye and Chaz Mostert – who won the last V8 Supercars Championship race – in the final minutes of the session.
But experience won at the technical three-kilometre circuit.
Nissan driver Michael Caruso also jumped into the top three in the final seconds.
Steven Richards, in the Pepsi Max Racing #5, was the fastest co-driver, though Greg Murphy in Holden Racing Team #22 was at the top after the 30-minute compulsory run for co-drivers finished.
The session was split with a number of red flags early – the first under two minutes in when Chris Pither stopped on track at turn nine. At that stage, only five co-drivers had recorded lap times.
The Brad Jones Racing cars were prominent in the session – #8’s Andrew Jones the quickest of the co-drivers for a number of laps, and Fabian Coulthard the first to record a time in the ‘34s’ with a 1min34.9839sec. He continued to better that time and teammate Bright followed in second. The pair dropped down the order as the session continued, though.
After Ingall and Lowndes, Caruso, Mostert, Pye, Garth Tander, Scott McLaughlin, James Moffat, Shane van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom made up the top 10.
Others to note include Championship leader Jamie Whincup in position 12, Coulthard ending 13th, Will Davison 15th, Bright 17th, James Courtney (who brought out the final red flag) 20th, Lee Holdsworth – marking the first of the Erebus Motorsport V8s – 21st, and David Reynolds 27th.
Another 75-minute practice session follows this afternoon, with the final practice a 30-minute session tomorrow at 9.35am AEST.