Lowndes and Kelly neck and neck in opening V8 practice

Triple Eight Race Engineering's Craig Lowndes has finished a mere 14 thousandths of a second behind championship rival Rick Kelly in today's nail biting practice session which saw the duo finish 13th and 14th respectively.

With just 7 points separating Lowndes and Kelly all eyes were on the two drivers as they strove to find the ultimate setup ahead of tomorrows all important qualifying session.

Lowndes spent the first half of the extended practice session lapping consistently in the top three but acknowledged he didn't quite have the car balance he would have liked during the second half of the session.

"We had a relatively good session and learnt a lot today," Lowndes said.

"I was happy with our race run simulation but we didn't quite get the car balance right on our second set of tyres in the later part of the session.

"We will compare our data with Jamie's tonight and I am sure we will come up with a better setup for qualifying tomorrow," Lowndes concluded.

Teammate Jamie Whincup successfully kept his Triple Eight Race Engineering Falcon in the top five for most of the session and was only piped for third in the final minute.

"It was good to get back to Phillip Island as it is a real drivers circuit," Whincup said.

"We used today's practice session to do a lot of development work for 2007 and seemed to make a lot of gains.

"While I was happy with the car we still need to find some more time for tomorrows qualifying session," Whincup concluded.

Saturday's race action will feature Qualifying, the Top 10 Shootout and the opening race (100km). The season's 2 final races will be held on Sunday (2 x 140km), and every on-track placing, pit-stop and passing opportunity will be instrumental in deciding the champion for 2006.

-credit: triple8