Flying start for Whincup and Winterbottom

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 03/02/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

A wide-eyed Jamie Whincup declared staying out of trouble in traffic will be key to winning the Bathurst 12 Hour after his Maranello Ferrari topped morning practice. 

It was a flying start to the weekend for Supercars champions Whincup and Mark Winterbottom, whose cars ended up one-two in the order. 

Whincup’s personal best time was a 2:04.8s, just over 0.6s shy of the session’s best set by his factory Ferrari co-driver Toni Vilander.

Winterbottom, who benefitted from a test day at Bathurst in his BMW last November, recorded the second quickest time of the session with 2:04.4s. 

Traffic rather than ultimate lap times was however the main talking point for both drivers from the session as they tackle the GT event for the first time. 

“I did maybe 15 laps and only one of those didn’t have traffic, which was quite bizarre for me,” Whincup told Supercars.com.

“I’m very raw, very rusty and very off-the-pace. I’ve got a lot of bad habits from the Supercar so I’m very slow over the top of the hill.

“But it was great to finally get some laps in the car. At the moment times don’t mean too much because everyone is all over the place.

“The race is going to be all about staying out of trouble because the traffic is unbelievable.

“Trying not to get tangled up in someone else’s incident is going to be really tough. 

“I had five or six moments where I thought someone was going to let me through and they would just take the racing line.

“You’ve got to change your mentality from just going fast to staying out of trouble.”

Winterbottom recorded the second quickest times during this morning's opening practice sessions. Winterbottom recorded the second quickest time during this morning's opening practice sessions.

Winterbottom also reported only getting one clear lap in the BMW he is sharing with Steven Richards and Marco Wittmann.

“The traffic is so crazy,” Winterbottom told Supercars.com.

“There are cars that are braking down the straights and stuff like that and one minor nick can rip thousands of dollars off the front end.

“Everyone is out there going as fast as they can and not everyone is going to do a really quick time.

“That’s what this category is about, it’s more strategic than Supercars where we’re all covered by seven or eight tenths.

“But it was good to get some laps because it’s a completely different track for us in these cars, especially being on the left-hand side across the top.

“It’s a good challenge and good to get one clear lap that we were able to do the time in. I’m really enjoying it.” 

Another former Supercars champion, Garth Tander, was also among the quickest in the first full-field practice session of the weekend. 

Tander put his Jamec-Pem Audi fourth with a 2:05.02s, while Shane van Gisbergen’s Mercedes ended up seventh thanks to co-driver Maro Engel.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter