Dontas fastest in Thursday SuperUtes practice

  • ECB SuperUtes Series
  • |
  • 04/10/2018
  • By Joshua Makhoul

A late Craig Dontas lap set the pace in Thursday practice for Round 6 of the ECB SuperUtes Series at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.

Making his return after missing the last two SuperUtes rounds, Dontas topped the timesheets in Practice 1 with a 3:04.3385s after the chequered flag had fallen.

"I was able to string a good lap together at the end of the first session," Dontas said.

"In the second session, it was wetter and I had a bit of a moment on my best lap, which ruined my chance to improve."

Thursday's two practice sessions were run in wet conditions, as the inaugural series made its maiden appearance at Mount Panorama.

EFS Mazda driver Ryal Harris set the early pace and held onto the top spot for the entirety of the first 20-minute session, until he was pipped late by Dontas.

With the weather not easing for the second leg of practice, Dontas' flyer from the opening session was not surpassed and he remained quickest overall for the day.

Harris did, though, take the top spot in Practice 2 and improve on his earlier time, which was 1.0365 seconds adrift of Dontas' best

"It was a positive start to our weekend, running inside the top two in both sessions," said Harris.

"These SuperUtes are very stable in the wet, although you have to be careful out of the slow corners due to the low-end power delivery."

As was the case with Dontas, series leader Craig Woods set his fastest lap of the day in the opening session, third on combined times in the Western Sydney Motorsport Hilux.

Aaron Cameron improved by 2.496s from the morning's session and ended up fourth fastest in the combined order aboard the Bushranger Racing Mazda BT-50.

Micheal Sieders was fifth quickest, back in the freshly-built #45 factory-backed Triton after a violent wreck in his first outing at Queensland Raceway, followed by Ben Walsh.

“The first session was good, but in the second session I made way too many mistakes. It felt like I was riding a giraffe on ice skates," said Sieders.

"Considering the wet weather, I was impressed with our top speed down Conrod and it will only become quicker once the track dries out," Walsh added.

Last year's V8 Ute Series winner, Kim Jane, filling in for Steve Wilson in the Isuzu D-Max, finished the day sixth overall in his first SuperUtes sessions.

"Today was all about learning to change gears again after 10 months out of a race car," Jane explained.

“Because it’s not my car, I’m conscious about bringing it home in one piece, so I didn’t take too many risks in the wet today."

Tom Alexander was next up in the SP Tools Colorado, followed by Matthew MacKelden who rounded out the top 10, with the only on-track incident for the day.

MacKelden lost the rear of his Hilux coming down the Mountain through The Dipper, backing his Toyota entry into the wall, before continuing moments later and returning to the pits.

“It was really disappointing, because the car felt really good – a vast improvement compared to the first session," said MacKelden.

"Fortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s too much damage so we’ll be back tomorrow.”

A last-minute change for Allgate Racing meant 2016 V8 Utes Series winner David Sieders replaced intended driver Chelsea Angelo, who withdrew due to personal commitments.

Matt Nolan was the original replacement, before also stepping aside due to personal reasons, with David Sieders the replacement, 10th quickest by day's end.

Holden Colorado driver Tomas Gasperak and Allgate Racing's Christopher Formosa finished the day 11th and 12th respectively.

Aussie Racing Cars driver Charlotte Poynting completed her maiden run, last in the order for the combined sessions, aboard a freshly-built Western Sydney Motorsport Hilux.

The on-track action resumes tomorrow morning, with ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 7:25am local time, followed by Race 1 that afternoon.

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