Cat Racing¹s endurance duo John Bowe and Jim Richards today began the battle of "going fast, slowly" in practice for this weekend¹s inaugural Queensland 500.
With all teams fighting severe tyre wear at the circuit, the experienced pair began the search for the car set-up which provides the ideal compromise between outright pace and tyre wear.
"There is probably a lot more speed in the car, but if you push too hard, the left rear is destroyed in only a couple of laps," Bowe said.
"You have to be exceptionally smooth with the steering and the throttle to keep the tyres alive.
"It really goes against the natural instincts of a racing driver to slow down, but you will be in big trouble if you don¹t.
"We only have four sets of tyres for qualifying and raceday and with 161 laps to complete on Sunday - you have to work towards making sure your car is fast and consistent all day.
"It is no use going fast at the start of the day and having no rubber to complete the race on Sunday afternoon."
Bowe was seventh fastest in the faster afternoon session, stopping the clocks at 1:11.377.
Richards was impressive in his first run aboard the Cat Falcon, doing a 1:12.235 in the morning session.
The six-time Bathurst winner was surprised with how comfortable he feels in Bowe¹s regular machine.
"After having driven Holdens in the endurance races over the past couple of years, I was surprised with how easily it has been to adapt to the Ford," Richards said.
"The cars feels really good, but I can¹t afford to really push its limits to see how it performs, or the tyres will suffer.
"Sunday¹s race will be won by the team that best looks after its tyres - not simply the fastest car."
Bowe and Richards will contest a one hour practice session tomorrow morning before a 20 minute qualifying session at 12.55pm. A shoot-out to decide the top ten qualifying positions will be staged at 1.50pm.
COMBINED PRACTICE 1. - Bright/Baird (F) - 1:10.712 2. - Skaife/Morris (H) - 1:10.826 3. - Lowndes/McConville (H) - 1:10.939 4. - Radisich/Ellery (F) - 1:11.152 5. - Longhurst/Macrow (F) - 1:11.155 6. - Tander/Bargwanna (H) - 1:11.224 7. - BOWE/RICHARDS (CAT FORD) - 1:11.377 8. - Larkham/B. Johns (F) - 1:11.396 9. - D. Johnson/S. Johnson (F) - 1:11.690 10. - Faulkner/Wills (H) - 1:11.725 (F)= Ford (H) = Holden
TIMETABLE: SATURDAY, 18th SEPTEMBER, 1999 9.30 - V8 Supercar Practice 12.30 - Qualifying (bottom 50%) 12.55 - Qualifying (top 50%) 1.50 - Top Ten Shootout