Scott McLaughlin tops Friday Supercars practice at Tailem Bend
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Shell V-Power Racing Ford Mustang pilot Scott McLaughlin has continued his form in the Supercars Championship by finishing Friday's practice at The Bend with the day's fastest time.
The series leader led the majority of the session, having clocked a competitive 1:48.8046 lap-time reasonably early. Eventually, he was joined up the top by teammate Coulthard.
The last 10 minutes became a dress-rehearsal for qualifying, with most teams electing to make one last stop for replacement rubber. This naturally meant a shake-up in the order.
McLaughlin was one of the first to improve on their best. He planted an extremely rapid 1:48.104 — monster seven-tenth improvement on his previous best. His lap triggered a flurry of other improvements, including big laps from Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters.
In the end McLaughlin led Mostert, Waters, Coulthard, and Lee Holdsworth in fifth. David Reynolds, Rick Kelly, Anton de Pasquale, Will Davison, and Thomas Randle rounded out the top 10.
Like at previous sprint events, those who set a time in the top 10 of the final Friday practice session would automatically skip the first step of Saturday qualifying. Among those to miss out on the 'Q2' berth were both Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodores; Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup.
The latter was a particular surprise, having ended the session in 25th — last. Van Gisbergen meanwhile was 16th. Fellow Kiwis Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway ended up 12th and 23rd, respectively.
Proceedings were relatively chaotic, with most of the field pushing the boundaries at the wide, flowing, low-grip Tailem Bend circuit. Spins off the track were frequent across all sessions.
One of the star performers during the day's three practice sessions (which included the additional drivers session at the beginning of the day, plus Practice 1 and Practice 2) was Randle. The former Castrol Toyota Racing Series champion makes his debut this weekend as a series Wildcard.
He was quickest in opening practice, pipping Michael Caruso and Garth Tander. He then backed that up by setting the fourth-fastest time in first practice — beaten only be Holdsworth, Tim Slade, and the session-topping McLaughlin — which led to 10th in second practice.
Qualifying tomorrow kicks off at 3.05pm NZST, with the opening Supercars race of the weekend to follow at 5.55pm.
More to come.