The V8 Supercars driver with the most wins at Phillip Island has sent a message in first practice, topping the timesheet by half a second.
Craig Lowndes popped to the top with under one minute remaining in the first hour-long session at the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, the only driver to crack the ‘31’ bracket with his 1min31.7255 lap.
Second in the Championship after two events, Lowndes believes there’s more to come from his TeamVortex Holden Commodore at a place he’s earned 11 wins.
“The car’s working well and I love this place,” Lowndes said.
“We’ve sort of been massaging the car. It went out about 80 per cent right … we put on a second set of used tyres and the car responded. You never know what everyone else has done, but working well.
He added: “Definitely more to come. Tyres were good but not flash, so happy with that.”
Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander shot up into P2 with 20 seconds to go, 0.499sec behind the TeamVortex Commodore and said the team had gradually been improving his car throughout the hour.
“It’s practice one so let’s not get too carried away,” he said.
“We made improvements all through the session but we still need to find a balance … that’s what practice is.”
The session ran green at the fast flowing circuit as teams worked through their program with tyres from their pre-marked banks.
The Red Bulls were fast across the hour, with Jamie Whincup landing third in the order ahead of DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard, Tim Slade and Shane van Gisbergen.
Championship leader Will Davison had a wild moment, and could only nurse his TEKNO Commodore to P19 in the session.
Others to note include Chaz Mostert 14, James Courtney 16 and Champ Mark Winterbottom 18th.
A handful of teams ran co-drivers in the session, with Tony D’Alberto clocking six laps in the #12 DJR Team Penske Falcon, Luke Youlden steering the sister car, Macauley Jones sampling the CoolDrive Commodore and Dean Fiore sharing Michael Caruso’s Nissan.
Fiore is the only one of those names not officially confirmed as a co-driver, though the pair has run together the past two seasons in the enduros.
The V8 Supercars hit the track for another hour of practice from 3.55pm local time.