Jamie Whincup has reclaimed top spot on the timing screens in the final practice before what is expected to be a record breaking qualifying session at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 later this afternoon.
Whincup set a best time of 2min05.1494sec in the Red Bull Holden Commodore VF, edging out defending Virgin Australia Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom in The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X by 0.1631sec.
Winterbottom’s Prodrive Racing Australia team-mate Chaz Mostert was third fastest ahead of Wilson Security GRM’s Scott McLaughlin, Whincup’s team-mate Shane van Gisbergen and BJR’s Tim Slade in the Freightliner Commodore.
“I think we’re going to have to be in the fours to get provisional pole today,” Winterbottom predicted.
“It’s moving around under brakes and it’s hard … The Chase, the last corner and turn one are difficult. I’m happy.
“We need to tidy up instability in the rear – if we can do that and not lose the strengths we have, we’ll be quicker. But it’s hard, we’ll need to be in the fours.”
“What we’re looking for is a kilometre per hour more turn, that will be a tenth a second per corner probably and happy days. But it’s easier to ask for it than to find it, so we’ll see how we go.”
Whincup owns the practice/qualifying record at 2:04.9097sec. That time was set in this session 12 months ago.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jason Bright, Fabian Coulthard, David Reynolds and Cameron Waters, whose co-driver Jack Le Brocq had topped the co-driver hit-out earlier in the day, the only session this week #88 hasn’t set the fastest time.
The top 14 cars were separated by less than one second.
Nick Percat was the driver who struck the most problems in the session, getting wide and loose into the dipper and hitting the wall with the left-rear side of the LDM Commodore.
Defending Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes continued to struggle in 12th, while the Holden Racing Team Commodores of James Courtney and Garth Tander were 17th and 19th respectively.
Harvey Norman Supergirl Simona de Silvestro brought up the rear of the field with a best effort of 2:08.7057, which was 3.55 sec behind Whincup’s time.