Championship leader and local Shane van Gisbergen has hit back in the second practice session at Pukekohe, breaking the lap record with a 1min02.4611 on hard tyres.
The time was just 0.0079sec quicker than the time set by David Reynolds in a Ford Falcon FG X last year at the circuit (also set on the hard tyre), proving van Gisbergen will be hard to beat at home this weekend as he races for maximum points.
The Red Bull driver held out Mark Winterbottom – winner of the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy in 2014 – by 0.07 seconds in the half hour run that was punctuated by a number of red flags as cars speared through signage and off at turn three.
Jamie Whincup had a major save on the front straight as he pushed the limits early in the session. David Reynolds – who was quickest in the day’s first session – followed, which ultimately brought out the red flag to clear debris.
Turn three was a hot spot with dirt spilling onto the track and contributing to cars flying off.
Will Davison, who finished 15th with a mechanical issue, explained: “They’ve put sand for us to play in behind the kerbs here. It was packed in pretty tight yesterday but everyone’s driving through it bringing mess on the track. In that first section there’s so much time to be made there so you have to attack…
“We’ve got a little misfire at the moment, an electrical miss with the gear shift … which we didn’t have time to fix in the session.”
Winterbottom was pleased to be up the front after tough runs at the last two events.
“It looks easy on TV, but there’s spots your mind and your foot are telling you different things and sometimes I’m getting them mixed up,” he joked of the Pukekohe circuit.
“It’s a good turnaround from two weeks ago over the bumps. I’m having fun, it’s good to be up the front racing competitively in the times.”
Michael Caruso popped into third in his Nissan Altima, with Scott McLaughlin and Jason Bright completing the top five.
Whincup held sixth, and wasn’t the only driver to have a moment, with Nick Percat triggering a red flag with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Dale Wood was happy to record 10th after missing the first session with a mechanical issue this morning.