Six-time Supercars champ Jamie Whincup has fired the first shot at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, topping the timesheets.
His fastest lap, set in the final minutes of the hour-long opener, was quicker than last year’s early practice time by four-tenths of a second.
The 2min05.9500 pipped second placed DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard by half a second – Coulthard has proven quick here in previous years, setting the fastest lap around Mount Panorama before Whincup smashed it last year with a 2min4.9097.
It’s an ominous sign from Triple Eight early, but Whincup played it down. His session wasn’t perfect, spearing into the sand at the final corner early on.
“Great to get the weekend underway, any lap around this place is pretty cool… the race track feels pretty clean, it hasn’t deteriorated much from last year. Car is there or thereabouts at this stage,” he said.
“Everyone will go quicker when they put some tyres on and the track really rubbers up. Fingers crossed the sun comes out and we stay out of trouble.”
Tim Slade slotted into third, with Brad Jones Racing teammate Jason Bright featuring sixth. Bright has had a tough season but believes BJR has a good chance of challenging this weekend and was disappointed after being held up by former teammate Dale Wood.
“We’ve had a quick car here the last couple of years, we came here confident we’d be on the money," Bright said.
"We were held up by Dale … we had the quickest sectors by a couple of tenths.”
The action started early with Cam Waters off at the Chase, and Scott Pye flying across Skyline into the tyres, triggering a short red flag period. He said he got out of jail free with just cosmetic damage to his Shell Falcon.
James Courtney “kissed” the wall and took some paint off, claiming he was rusty after skipping last year from injury, while teammate Garth Tander spent most of the session in the top three. Co-driver Warren Luff finished the session in the Holden Racing Team Commodore to end seventh.
Craig Lowndes also went off at The Chase midway through the session and came home 23rd, with 2014 winner Chaz Mostert tucked behind him in 24th.
A handful of co-drivers ran in the session – Chris van der Drift tackled it for Erebus, because the rules force Shae Davies to enter as a co-driver as he is also contesting the Dunlop Series.