Scott McLaughlin has topped the first practice session at the Coates Hire Sydney 500, his final weekend racing with Wilson Security GRM.
McLaughlin clobbered the wall on his fast lap but was able to top James Courtney by 0.0097sec in his run after the chequered flag.
The team is running a special tribute on his Volvo this weekend, and fighting for third in the Championship and an improved position in the teams' championship.
“I’m really pumped for this weekend,” McLaughlin said after his 1min27.8095 lap.
“Richard [Hollway, engineer] has given me a good car around here and I love this track, I’m putting it all on the line.”
Courtney earned ARMOR ALL Pole Position here last year and said they had a good starting point after the first 40-minute session.
“It’s always good when you look up and you’re at the top. There’s a long way to go but the car feels good. It’s a great starting point – I love street circuits and I’m a happy little chappy at the moment. Car’s doing what we need, reacting to change,” he said.
Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen was fourth in the order behind Jamie Whincup, as he and engineer Grant McPherson learnt about the Dunlop soft tyre on the track for the first time.
“Track’s slippery, it’s so much fun on the soft tyre,” Van Gisbergen said.
“The rubber will go down and we’ll get quicker and quicker.
“It didn’t feel nice at the start, it was quick but not nice to drive. It was quick but not comfortable.”
It wasn’t a smooth session with Craig Lowndes smacking the wall hard at the end of the run. Mark Winterbottom’s Falcon stopped on track just minutes into the session with the team searching for an electrical gremlin for much of the session. Dale Wood ran into drama early too with smoke pouring from his Nissan after the team overfilled the oil tank. Todd Kelly appeared to have the same issue.
Tim Slade rounded out the top five at a circuit he and BJR have traditionally performed well at in the past.