Kelly fastest, Bright crashes in Practice 1

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/06/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Rick Kelly raised hopes that Nissan can repeat its Hidden Valley success of 12 months ago by topping opening practice.

The Sengled Altima came out on top in a five-minute shootout at the end of the session following a red flag stoppage caused by a crash from Jason Bright.

Shell V-Power Racing’s Fabian Coulthard had held the top spot when the red flags flew with a 1:06.77s effort, but dropped to seventh as others improved after the restart.

The Triple Eight Holdens briefly went one-two-three before Kelly’s 1:06.51s lap trumped the field.

Nissan has a strong history at Hidden Valley, including two front-row starts and a win last year, and is looking to turn around a tough year this weekend.

“We ran a new set of tyres and I don’t think anyone else did,” admitted Kelly, whose car was driven by co-driver David Wall in the opening minutes of the session.

“There's definitely a lot of time in the car still. We've only done a couple of runs here today so there's certainly more to come. 

“I had a little bit of a throttle drama at that critical point where you're trying to crack initial throttle, it's a bit sticky and breaks through very aggressively.

“It wasn't the cleanest of laps, but a nice easy thing to fix up.”

Nissan did not test in the break between events as it awaits a series of updates, but Kelly says the team had some new parts to try during practice.

“The guys have done a really strong amount of work in the last four weeks. There's a lot of new stuff on the car we're trying,” he said.

“It really paid off and the group is working really well as four cars trying different stuff. Hopefully we'll see some of that progress us forward.”

Craig Lowndes ended up 0.062s adrift in second ahead of team-mates Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.

Chaz Mostert led the Ford runners in fifth ahead of Lee Holdsworth, who made a positive return to Hidden Valley after his major crash 12 months ago.

Bright was the unfortunate story of the opening session, losing the rear of his MEGA Fuels Ford at Turn 11 and spinning backwards into the tyre wall.

Although able to drive the car back to the pits, the red flags were called while dislodged tyres were put back in place.

“I just went a little bit hot in there, ended up in the marbles and ran out of road,” explained Bright, who had been sixth at the time of the crash.

“It’s disappointing. The car is very fast at the moment but thankfully it’s straight except for the quarter panel so we’ll get back out this afternoon.”

Bright had spun just past the end of the gravel trap, ensuring he made the fence.

“It’s the story of my life. If there’s a gravel trap I’ll miss it,” he quipped.

"Luckily there were a lot of tyres there. It didn’t feel like it hit that hard so hopefully it’s all cosmetic.”

Lowndes, van Gisbergen and James Courtney were among those to have offs at Turn 1 during the session, running through the grass before rejoining unscathed.

Mobil 1 HSV Racing’s recent struggles for one-lap speed continued with Courtney 24th and team-mate Scott Pye 25th.

The team is this weekend operating without its acting manager Mathew Nilsson, who is in Fiji celebrating his wedding anniversary.

Cameron McConville ended up 19th on his return for LDM having sat eighth when the red flags flew.

“I was obviously on a pretty good tyre,” he said during the stoppage.

“I’m just dialling into the car trying to give the team some feedback.

“They haven’t had the chance to do too many wholesale changes until now so I just said let’s try whatever you want to try to give a bit of direction.

“It’s session one and I’m under no illusions as to where we’re going to be but it’s good to be up there for the guys.”

CLICK HERE for the full Practice 1 result.

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