The stage is set for a titanic tussle between the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and Shell V-Power Racing after a tight opening day of practice at Symmons Plains.
Shane van Gisbergen narrowly outpaced Shell duo Fabian Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin in Practice 2, while Jamie Whincup completed a Red Bull bookend of the top four.
Practice 1 pace-setter Whincup led the way for much of the second 45 minute session thanks to an early 51.04s lap.
The time held until McLaughlin dipped into the 50s with just seven minutes remaining before watching the dying stages from the garage.
Van Gisbergen and Coulthard both went faster before the chequered flag, with the reigning champion’s 50.80s proving 0.09s clear of his countryman.
“We weren’t fully happy but we’ve got tomorrow to sort that,” said van Gisbergen.
“Today we progressed a lot, learned a lot about these tyres and feel pretty good.
“There was a bit of agro in that first one (contact with Coulthard in Practice 1), but on a short track like this, everyone is fighting for space.”
Reigning Symmons Plains Sunday winner Will Davison was the best of the rest in fifth, providing strong encouragement for the Tekno Autosports squad.
“I was pretty confident we’d be pretty good here,” said Davison.
“It’s nice to know we’ve rolled out and it all feels as per normal.
“We should be on for a pretty good weekend which we need at the moment.”
Bouncing back from their heavy crash at Albert Park, Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth recorded sixth and seventh fastest respectively.
Mark Winterbottom, Craig Lowndes and Cameron Waters completed the top 10, while Chaz Mostert was down the order in 19th aboard the third of the Prodrive entries.
Like Practice 1, the second session was interrupted by a single red flag, this time for James Courtney who had bunkered his Mobil 1 HSV Racing Commodore in the Turn 4 gravel.
The Supercars will have a third and final practice session tomorrow morning before qualifying and the afternoon’s 120km race.