Percat gaps the field in opening practice

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/06/2021
  • By James Pavey

A last-gasp flyer has helped Nick Percat top Practice 1 at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown.

Percat vaulted to the top of the time sheets after the chequered flag fell to put 0.12s on Anton De Pasquale.

The Brad Jones Racing driver clocked his 1:06.1695s best on his 16th lap of the 40-minute session.

It marks an early confidence boost for BJR, with Percat quickest in the first session on Dunlop’s new Super Soft tyre compound.

Behind Percat, the margins were tight; De Pasquale in second through Mark Winterbottom in fifth were covered by just 0.0445s.

Winterbottom led for much of the session, having set a 1:06.3349s on his first flying lap.

A late flurry of times, saw De Pasquale and Cameron Waters run first and second, before Percat and Scott Pye joined the party.

WATCH: PERCAT 'STUCK TO PROGRAMME'

Percat’s time was 0.4s quicker than Chaz Mostert’s time set in the corresponding session last August.

There were some notable omissions at the top of the time sheets; notably, both Red Bull Ampol Racing drivers missed the top 10.

Series leader Shane van Gisbergen was 11th, 0.4654s off the pace, with Jamie Whincup 14th.

Will Davison was 0.43s off Shell V-Power Racing Team stablemate De Pasquale in 13th.

However, the biggest smiles were reserved for Percat, who heads into Practice 2 at 1:20pm local time with the quickest time.

WATCH: WINTERBOTTOM DISCUSSES SUPER SOFT

“It did feel good; we had a very well-structured programme,” he said.

“We stuck to it and went through the changes like we wanted, and the end result was a pretty fast lap time.

“Obviously being Practice 1, I think Chaz was fast on the used tyre, but we made a change on our last run before new tyres.

“It actually hooked up and was pretty quick then.

“There’s a little bit more to come, but early days."

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