McLaughlin tops opening Newcastle practice

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 22/11/2019
  • By Connor O'Brien

Scott McLaughlin has celebrated his newfound status as a two-time Supercars champion by topping his first session at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500.

McLaughlin was fastest in the opening practice at the twisty street circuit, setting a 1:10.6092s to deny David Reynolds top spot.

Reynolds had shot past Penrite Racing teammate Anton De Pasquale to the top of the timesheets with the first sub 71-second lap of the weekend amid a flurry of late flyers.

McLaughlin survived a big moment at the midway point of the session, locking up into Turn 11.

The #17 Ford eventually headed Reynolds and Jamie Whincup, with Todd Hazelwood and Mark Winterbottom showing promising pace to take fourth and fifth respectively.

Click here for full Practice 1 results

“The car felt good,” said McLaughlin. “The wind and stuff makes it bloody hard to drive, so I was blowing a fair bit, but it's all good."

Noted Hazelwood: "The car is getting blown around a little bit through Turn 10 and the entry into Turn 11.

"Obviously Turn 11 being different you try to push yourself and then you obviously got the wind pushing you around as well.

"It's a little bit of mind games out there trying to work out what's the best at the moment, but I'm comfortable in the car and feeling strong."

Early pacesetter Shane van Gisbergen was sixth from De Pasquale, with Chaz Mostert, Lee Holdsworth and Rick Kelly eighth through 10th.

Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat managed just eight laps in the Timken-branded #8 Commodore before locking up into the Turn 7 fence, sustaining front-end damage.

Andre Heimgartner did well to avoid Percat’s stricken Commodore, taking evasive action down the escape road.

“Suspension-wise it's tracking straight and all that, but all the front rail and everything that holds the front bar is obviously crushed,” said Percat.

“I came off that right-hander (Turn 6), the fast one before the first 90-degree left there and just grabbed the inside front and it locked, and I couldn't get it unlocked.

“Obviously with the crowning in the road it was just red light [lock-up light].

“It was one of those things, you kind of got a split-second decision and I'm like 'I've already come too far to try and get down the escape road'.

“Credit to Andre and Macca [Macauley Jones] to not drill me when I was in the tyres.”

Heimgartner managed only 22nd for the session, one spot ahead of Percat.

An unwell Scott Pye ended up 13th, completing the whole session while Warren Luff remained in the Walkinshaw Andretti United garage on standby.

The second and final practice of the day will run from 3:25pm local time.

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