Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen has topped the timesheets in the final practice session at the Coates Hire Sydney 500 and lowered the lap record to a 1min27.0734 on Dunlop soft tyres.
The session was interrupted by red flag interventions, with turn eight catching out a number of drivers. Super Black Racing’s Chris Pither was out of the session in the first six minutes, crashing into the wall, his Falcon having to be recovered.
Minutes after the restart Michael Caruso’s Nissan was in at the same place, with damage that looks worse than Pither’s. Erebus driver Shae Davies was another victim after Craig Lowndes rubbed the wall there in the day’s first session.
Van Gisbergen’s winning time was 0.02sec quicker than Tim Slade, who shot up the timesheets in the Freightliner Commodore and split the two title contenders, with Jamie Whincup home third.
“It’s a hell of a lot better than where we were at in New Zealand, but completely different tracks. For whatever reason I’ve had a half decent run at Homebush,” Slade said.
“We’re pretty happy with where we started so fingers crossed it carries through to tomorrow.”
Chaz Mostert and James Courtney rounded out the top five, with Nick Percat a surprise including in the top 10 with the seventh best time of the session. It reached 35 degrees in Sydney and Percat battled without cooling after a cool suit failure. He didn’t race here last year after a blood infection had him sidelined.
“It’s one of my favourite tracks – I potentially still have Dunlop Series record in 2012. In HRT in ‘13 I out-qualified Garth those two races,” Percat said in reference to the year he stepped in for James Courtney after his broken leg.
“I have to thank Jack Perkins, he raced it last year – we rolled out with that setup and it was quite good.”
Mark Winterbottom was 16th after dramas in the first session.
Click here for full results.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship cars hit the track for qualifying at 12.15pm tomorrow.