Mostert tops crash-hit opening Bathurst practice

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 05/10/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Prodrive's Chaz Mostert topped an opening practice session for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in which crashes triggered two red flag stoppages.

Mostert recorded the hour-long session’s 2:06.3033s best with two minutes remaining, which proved 0.06s quicker than a final effort from Triple Eight's Craig Lowndes.

Click here for the full Practice 1 result.

Todd Kelly jumped from 20th to an eventual third in the final minutes aboard his Nissan ahead of Fabian Coulthard, Michael Caruso and Sandown winner Cameron Waters.

The session was the first chance for the teams to readjust to the 2016 Dunlop tyres, which the field has reverted to for the punishing Bathurst circuit.

Mostert’s time proved nearly 0.4s slower than the fastest Practice 1 time from 12 months ago .

“It felt a little bit nervous out there to start with, but it feels pretty good out of the box,” said Mostert.

“You’ve got to give the new [set-up] stuff we’ve been doing a crack [on the 2016 tyre], and the car seemed to be OK.

“The first thing out there, you feel the braking stability and sidewall movement compared to the new [tyre], and you kind of think, ‘what’s happened with the car?’, but you’ve just got to delete the previous round and try to remember what happened last year.

“I’m pretty happy, we’ll see how the rest of the weekend goes.”

The session’s big story was a crash for Tim Slade, who smacked the concrete heavily in The Esses at the 32-minute mark, at which point he’d been fastest on 2:07.095s.

Slade lost the rear of the Freightliner entry through the left-hander, grazing the right-side wall with the back of Commodore before making heavy contact on the left.

The crash has left Brad Jones Racing with another major repair, with the car not expected to return to the track until tomorrow.

Co-driver Ash Walsh is cross-entered in the sister Nick Percat/Macauley Jones entry, and will likely drive the #8 car in today’s second session to assess his fitness.

Click here for more on the accident, including comments from Brad Jones and Slade.

Just 10 minutes elapsed between the resumption and the next red flag, this time called to retrieve Alex Rullo’s Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden.

The 17-year-old clipped the wall at the exit of Forrest’s Elbow, breaking the right-front suspension and leaving Rullo to stop halfway down Conrod Straight.

Mostert was quickest at the time of the second red flag having been the first into the 2:06s just prior to the stoppage.

Jamie Whincup, who ended up 10th, speared down the Murray’s Corner escape road as he tested the limits moments prior to Rullo's crash.,

Red Bull team-mate Shane van Gisbergen meanwhile remarked that he felt he was “on the verge of crashing” on the way to 23rd.

Nissan had a difficult start to its session, with the cars of Rick and Todd Kelly both forced to pit with oil billowing from their Altimas.

“It’s annoying. It just has a big breathe and looks worse than it really is,” explained the team’s general manager Scott Sinclair.

“We’ll clean it up and we’ll be alright. We’re trying a few different things across the cars and if the other two don’t do it I think that’ll give us a good direction.”

Several teams decided to finish the session with their co-drivers on board, giving them a brief run before the dedicated 60 minute session from 1235 local time.

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