Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin beat Jamie Whincup to top spot in Practice 2 for the Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 at Albert Park.
McLaughlin spent the bulk of the session with the fastest time, and responded to a late Whincup challenge to finish 0.1417 seconds clear.
The pacesetting 1:55.2982s was one tenth quicker than Whincup’s fastest time in Practice 1, despite the installation of tyre bundles at the apexes of Turns 11 and 12.
Among the drivers who didn’t use a new set of super-softs in the opening 30 minutes of running, McLaughlin moved to the top by three-quarters of a second approaching the halfway mark.
His 1:55.6067s stood as the benchmark entering the final 10 minutes, even as team-mate and defending Albert Park winner Fabian Coulthard cut the margin back to 0.2758s.
A slight improvement from McLaughlin to 1:55.5436s got his advantage back to 0.3389s, before drivers started their late new-tyre runs.
Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver Whincup, who had a Turn 1 off early, went fastest with a 1:55.4399s entering the final minute.
His time at the top was short-lived, though, McLaughlin recording a 1:55.2982s after the chequered flag flew.
Coulthard was ultimately third-fastest, 0.5843s adrift of his team-mate, with another six tenths then covering third down to 15th.
“I enjoy this place," said reigning Albert Park winner Coulthard, who is 20th in points after a shocking Adelaide.
"It’s a track that’s clicked with me, I don’t know why, but every category I’ve been in I’ve always had good success here.
”The car is good, we just need to keep on top of it and hopefully have a good weekend.
“I’m looking forward to qualifying. It’s like two Top 10 Shootouts in one session.”
Nick Percat recovered from kerb strikes to jump from last to fourth after the flag, the Brad Jones Racing driver pairing that with second in Practice 1.
Both Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodores ventured through the Turn 3 gravel during the session, with Scott Pye and James Courtney fifth and 18th.
Nissans filled sixth and seventh, with team co-owner Rick Kelly and its new recruit Andre Heimgartner.
“It’s good to back up the speed we had in Adelaide,” Heimgartner said.
“I was just getting used to the car. In Adelaide I could man-handle it around, but here requires a lot more finesse and you need to know the characteristics of the car.
“Every time we were going out we were learning and we’ve ended up not too bad, so I’m happy.”
David Reynolds, Shane van Gisbergen - who had an off at Turn 3 - and Mark Winterbottom vaulted up to eighth, ninth and 10th from outside the top 20 after the chequered flag came out.
Reynolds’ Erebus Motorsport team-mate Anton De Pasquale was the best of the five rookies in 19th, shading Todd Hazelwood.
Tim Blanchard missed the first third of the session owing to a gearbox change in his CoolDrive Commodore following problems in Practice 1, winding up 22nd.
Setting the grid for Races 1 and 2, a pair of 10-minute ARMOR ALL Qualifying sessions start at 4:20pm and 4:40pm.