It’s qualifying Friday at Mount Panorama – and the rain has arrived.
The rain mercifully stayed away on Thursday, delivering the fastest conditions of the weekend in the afternoon co-driver session.
The teams had a drier run in the opening session on Friday morning, but the long-awaited wet weather hit hard soon after the session ended.
Chaos immediately ensued, with the TGRA86 category witnessing cars being tossed off the track and into the dirt repeatedly.
There is one more Supercars practice session (1pm AEDT) before qualifying at 4.55pm AEDT.
Sky News announces an 80% chance at 1pm practice and a 60% chance at the 4pm screening session, while the Met Office says there is a chance of thunderstorms.
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Running Center: Live times and full session results
New Gen3 Mustangs get tongue-in-cheek! | 06:10
Thursday’s Pack: Slippery conditions leave the top guns to struggle as legends pass behind.
Analysis: The past meets when legends turn back the clock.
It only lasted six rounds, but the first race weekend of the TGRA86 category provided entertainment in the spotlight – thanks to driver control.
There were more crashes as the rain eased, most notably on lap four when five drivers lost their way on the chase.
And it didn’t take long for the wet weather to cause more problems for the Supercars stars.
Andre Heimgartner ran early on The Chase but managed to avoid getting caught on the beach, while Tim Slade found the wall.
Then, less than 15 minutes into the session, Todd Hazelwood blasted into the wall straight in Turn 2. He was third at the time and pushing hard.
Hazelwood said after the car was towed to the pit lane: “It wasn’t too bad to be honest, I was pretty comfortable… really disappointing.” I usually go in thoroughly wet. “
Hopefully we can fix it for the all-important qualifying session this afternoon.
Reigning Supercars champion and current series leader Shane van Gisbergen was first when the session was red-flagged, with Anton de Pasqual second.
As the session resumed, Richie Stanaway further cemented his reputation as a wet-weather specialist as he guided the Airbus/Boost Mobile wildcard entry into second place. He improved further to post 2:31.840s to claim first place.
But the weather was getting worse – and the breakdowns would soon increase.
“The conditions at Mount Panorama right now are diabolical,” Mark Scaife said on Fox Sports.
Rivers of water on the track in the last corner suddenly sent water slides and cars sliding out of control, especially in the chase and at the end of the last lap.
Tony D’Alberto (Anton De Pasquale’s co-driver) lost control trying to enter the pits, as did the other drivers. Cameron Hill (Chris Peter’s co-driver), Macauley Jones, Brody Kostecki and Jake Kostecki all lost control, although Macauley Jones was the only one who crashed into the wall at any serious risk.
He headed to another red flag after eight incidents in the session.
Once again it started, but the action didn’t slow down.
Jake Kosteckie runs again at The Chase.
Craig Lowndes flew off the road in the final corner as he tried to enter the pit lane, while Will Brown’s Airbus brought out the third red flag after hitting the fence halfway down the hill and forcing him to stop.
That made it 11 incidents in one session, with three red flags raised.
A report on Friday’s practice
Will Davison won his second practice session in as many days, beating the 2016 champion by 0.199 in dry practice and making a statement ahead of the afternoon’s qualifying. Teamed up with older brother Alex for Dick Johnson Racing.
“It’s two sessions down, we’re up,” he said, but added, “We’re not looking at that much.”
“It’s very exciting. The track is definitely not as good as yesterday.
Two-time Bathurst runner-up Cameron Waters made a couple of minor mistakes in Thursday’s intense practice to enter the final sector, 20 minutes behind in 2:04.573 seconds on Friday’s timesheets. That marker would stand for most of the session before Waters improved further to 2:04.407s, finishing second best behind Davison.
Waters agreed it was worse than Thursday, but said: “Our car wasn’t good yesterday … we learned a bit, and the car is a lot better today.”
Will Davison topped the charts with a 2:04.208s in his Shell V-Power Mustang in the late storms of the jammed track. Davison topped Thursday morning’s practice with a 2:04.369s, a consistent position that makes him a serious contender for qualifying.
But it was more of a disappointment for 2020 champion Shane van Gisbergen. His co-driver Garth Tander set the standards on Thursday, with Tander’s afternoon time of 2:04.135 the fastest time of the day – and faster than any driver’s 2021 practice time.
“It was pretty good with the mix,” van Gisbergen said of Thursday morning’s practice session after hitting the wall and narrowly avoiding a horrendous crash. He added that he himself was ‘very angry’ at the mistake.
But Van Gisbergen’s frustration continued on Friday, as he failed to connect a full hot lap.
Early in the session, Forecast was on a lap of 2:04.3 seconds until a final corner brake lockout ruined his leg. He was frustrated again in the session before finding traffic in the middle of lap three and forcing him to drop back. He attempted another flying lap around the following mountain, and was once again on course for the fastest times of the session – only to run wide at The Chase.
“I’m sick of this,” he wails over the radio, complaining of inconsistent braking. His best time was only good enough for 10th.
His team principal Supercars and Bathurst great Jamie Whincup is driving for young gun Brock Feeney this time around, but he has shown no shortage of pace since retiring from full-time driving after last season.
Whincup finished third in Thursday’s afternoon session, and said he was “as confident as ever” of his chances of glory come Friday.
“I don’t think we’re going to be as fast as the other car,” he said after Thursday’s practice, however.
Tim Slade’s Blanchard Racing Team Mustang was also stranded in the pits after a problem during a brake change pit stop. After being only 14th fastest on Thursday, he responded with an impressive finish as late as fourth in the session.
Fifth Bathurst champion Chaz Mostert’s best time was 2:04.617.
Another mechanical issue for Richie Stanaway cost them half an hour for the second straight day.
“That’s not ideal,” he said, “probably we need the thighs more than anyone else.
Young gun rollercoaster 24 hours after the abuse
Just days away from his 21st birthday, rising star Zac Best has summed up the highs and lows of Bathurst in a surprising few hours.
On Thursday, Best and his team were fined $3000 by stewards for breaking the speed limit. Stewards report that the Bezes buggy travels at “excessive speed” during the track walk and with passengers wearing seat belts.
Best showed his speed on Friday, clocking 2:05.563s for Friday’s first race of the Dunlop Super2 series.
Things then took a different turn when Best went too hard on the exit of The Chase and crashed into the wall – wearing the tires he used during the race. His Tickford Racing drive showed a lot of damage on the left side.
He also ran extensively in the Top Division Supercars drive in The Chase during Friday’s first practice session, with Best set to compete in the Bathurst 1000 as co-driver to Tickford’s Thomas Randle.
Practice 2 Highlight Bathurst | 01:29
Richard is looking forward to watching the great race.
The Bathurst 1000 is the pinnacle of Australian motorsport, and even Formula One superstar Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he’ll tune in this weekend.
Speaking at the F1 press conference in Japan, he said: “I definitely watch it – I watch the highlights – and I try to follow who’s fastest and so on… But it’s a great race.
“My folks are really coming out, so they’ll be there. I think it’s their first time, so I’m looking forward to talking to them over the weekend and hearing how the experience is going.
“But it’s really cool. When you watch it as a kid, you put aside all day and watch the Bathurst 1000 and it’s always been an event – fond memories of that race and hopefully it’s a good one this year.”
Davison in Exercise 1 | 01:20
Full schedule (all times AEDT)
10:10 – 11:10 Exercise 3 (all drivers)
1 pm – 2 pm: Supercars Practice 4 (All Drivers)
4:15 – 4:55 To qualify
10:20 – 11:20 Exercise 5 (Common Drivers)
From 1 pm to 2 pm: Supercars Practice 6 (All Drivers)
5:05 p.m: Top-10 shooting
8:00 – 8:20 Supercars heating
8:40 – 9 am: Drivers parade
11:15 a.m. Start of race (161 laps)
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