Payne, Reynolds jump to first and second in closing minutes
Kostecki led majority of session, which was red-flagged after Best stopped
Van Gisbergen, Goddard two of many to suffers offs
Matt Payne and David Reynolds have taken Penrite Racing to the top of the time sheets in a busy first Friday session at Mount Panorama.
Championship leader Brodie Kostecki looked to continue Erebus Motorsport’s session-topping run, with an early 2:05.4377s holding sway for the majority of the session.
However, with three minutes remaining, rookie Payne fired in a 2:05.2855s to knock the series leader off top spot to the tune of 0.1522s.
In the closing seconds, Reynolds clocked a 2:05.3738s to drop Kostecki to third, with the 2017 Bathurst winner just 0.0883s behind his teammate.
Shell V-Power Racing Team duo Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale improved late on to complete the top five, with the top 10 covered by just 0.7s.
After two relatively clean sessions on Thursday, several teams encountered dramas on Friday morning, both with regards to incidents and reliability.
Notably, 2022 winner Shane van Gisbergen went off at The Chase, with Triple Eight stablemate Zane Goddard suffering a scare at McPhillamy Park in the #888 Supercheap Auto wildcard Camaro.
The session was red-flagged midway through after Zak Best pulled the #5 Snowy River Caravans Ford over on Conrod Straight with an engine issue. Best managed to coast the car back to pit lane, with an engine temperature issue later diagnosed courtesy of a ruined belt.
Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang) and Kostecki fired the early shots, both drivers trading times at the top. Mostert's 2:06.4228s was bested by Kostecki's 2:05.5774s, with Mostert going to second with a 2:05.7308s. Behind them, Reynolds' co-driver Garth Tander put the #26 Ford into third with a 2:06.4815s, as Kostecki went quicker with a 2:05.4377s.
All the while, drivers began to trip up; Bryce Fullwood ran the repaired #14 Middy's Electrical Camaro into the Hell Corner run-off, as did James Golding in the #31 Nulon Camaro. Jamie Whincup, the Sandown 500 winner, ran the #88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro off at The Chase.
The times improved down the order, Cam Waters going third with a 2:05.7987s aboard his #6 Monster Energy Ford. Co-driver James Moffat suffered a big scare late in the session at McPhillamy, with the #6 ending up ninth.
The Shell V-Power Fords turned up the wick, De Pasquale going fifth and second on consecutive laps. Broc Feeney, having taken over from Whincup, also improved from fifth to second in consecutive laps prior to the red flag.
The Cameron Hill/Jaylyn Robotham #35 Truck Assist Camaro ended up sixth despite the car being garage-bound for the opening 15 minutes due to a clutch pedal issue. Hill ran as high as third before the Penrite Fords went fastest of all.
Van Gisbergen made his error at The Chase while running 20th, and ended up 19th on the time sheets by session's end. Feeney/Whincup ended up seventh ahead of Mostert/Lee Holdsworth, Waters/Moffat and Andre Heimgartner/Dale Wood (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro).
Supercars will return to the track for Practice 4 at 1:05pm AEDT ahead of ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 4:15pm, which sets the running order for Saturday’s Top Ten Shootout.