Less than twenty-four hours before his first ever car race, Casey Stoner believes he is on the right path to success in his V8 Supercars debut this weekend at the Clipsal 500, in Adelaide.
The two-time MotoGP champion impressed amongst the 30-strong field contesting the Dunlop V8 Supercar series’ two, 30-minute practice sessions today (Thursday).
His Pirtek / Red Bull-backed Holden, sporting his iconic #27, ended the day 8th overall, just 0.69s behind overall pacesetter Dale Woods’ FG Falcon.
In general, it wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be
Stoner lopped more than a full second off his best lap time from the first to second session today, ending the day with a strong 1m23.4282s lap that was just 0.1s slower than second-year driver George Miedecke, and the same margin quicker than the experienced Daniel Gaunt.
Having battled the best of the best on two wheels, Stoner told media today that he felt his first true day at the office was ‘less daunting’ than he expected.
“In general, it wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be, it’s a bit more easy to deal with,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy to be honest. We still need to make some improvements with the car, but it’s also me getting used to the car, getting used to the track, getting used to having cars around me and not being able to turn around and check who’s behind me, having to use the mirrors instead.
“Everyone has been really good to us today. There are all sorts of things to contend with, but in general it’s been a lot of fun today.”
Stoner said today continued his learning experience – his first true look at a street circuit a dramatic difference the now Queensland-based driver has experienced in his private testing at Queensland Raceway.
“It was a little bit different to begin with, going from a bike to a car, but you learn to run with it – that’s the edge of the track and that’s all you’ve got.
“There’s obviously still work to do and I’m not placing any expectations on the weekend, but I’m certainly having fun and looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
Red Bull Racing Australia team principal Roland Dane was suitably impressed with the performance.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” Dane said.
"He finished top-10 with plenty of experienced guys all around him and behind him. So he is in the thick of the action. He didn’t touch anything, he didn’t hit anything. He did a great job first run out and I’m sure he’ll be more relaxed now.”
In a highly competitive field, Dale Wood edged out Chaz Mostert and Andrew Jones in today’s Dunlop V8 Supercar Series practice, the three covered by just 0.0991s. Geoff Emery and Ash Walsh completed the top five – with the group covered by a remarkably competitive 0.16s.
Kristian Lindbom, George Miedecke, Stoner, Daniel Gaunt and Formula Ford graduate Garry Jacobson completed the Top-10. Chris Pither and main-game regular Taz Douglas completed the top 12.
The first V8 Supercar race of the season will be contested by the Dunlop V8 Supercars, set for 5:45pm local time.