Cat Racing star John Bowe shone bright in the opening practice session of the 2000 Shell Championship Series at Phillip Island today.
Bowe topped the timesheets for the majority of the single practice session, stopping the clocks at 1:33.391 for the 4.44km circuit.
Greg Murphy (Holden) and Glen Seton (Ford) bumped Bowe back to third spot in the dying moments of the session with only minutes remaining. The top three plus Ford driver Paul Radisich (4th) were all under the existing lap record. Bowe was delighted with the competitive time but is confident of making further improvements tomorrow.
"The car is not too bad, but it is not as balanced as I would like," Bowe said.
"It is pleasing to put in a strong time but we have to repeat the dose tomorrow. The car has a bit of understeer in certain places around the track which we began to fix during the session, but there is more changes to try tomorrow."
With 37 cars lining up for the opening practice session of the year, Bowe is delighted to make such a strong start.
"It is always very hard to know where you are at until we all turn up at the first race meeting," Bowe said.
"It is still early days because other teams could still be trying different set-ups, but I would rather be 3rd than 33rd."
"Our straight-line speed has improved from last year and we have spent a lot of time on suspension development."
"The trick tomorrow is to finalise a race package that will provide a strong and consistent car throughout both races."
For the opening round of the 2000 season, the teams will contest two 45 minutes race, one each on Saturday and Sunday both with a single tyre stop.
"Our usual 3-race, 20 minute format works well, but it is great to try something different," Bowe said.
"The tyre stop brings the whole crew into the act, so it is much more a team effort."
PRACTICE 1. Murphy (Holden) 1:33.285 2. Seton (Ford) 1:33.387 3. BOWE (CAT FORD) 1:33.391 4. Radisich (Ford) 1:33.421 5. Ingall (Holden) 1:33.506 6. Lowndes (Holden) 1:33.628 7. Skaife (Holden) 1:33.630 8. Crompton (Ford) 1:33.821 9. Perkins (Holden) 1:33.847 10. Faulkner (Holden) 1:34.040
SATURDAY, 12th FEBRUARY, 2000 9.45 V8 Supercar Practice 11.15 Qualifying (top 50%) 11.40 Qualifying (bottom 50%) 2.45 Race One (45 mins)
SUNDAY, 13th FEBRUARY, 2000 11.00 V8 Warm-up 3.00 Race Two (45 mins)