Skaife and Tander at the front in opening Sandown 500 practice

The Holden Racing Team's combination of Mark Skaife and Garth Tander have started their Sandown 500 campaign in style by clocking the second fastest time in today's opening practice at the Melbourne circuit.

In fine conditions, Tander clocked the time of 1m11.0554s, less than one- tenth of a second behind the Triple Eight Falcon of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

However, the fact that Tander was on an even faster lap at the end of the session only to have to pit so as not to exceed the maximum number of 52 laps completed for the day, gives the team great confidence heading into qualifying tomorrow.

Tander has been nominated to qualify the #2 Commodore in the fight for pole position for Sunday's endurance classic.

Across the HRT garage, Ryan Briscoe took his first-ever laps in a V8 Supercar in a racing environment, he and veteran Jim Richards playing themselves in slowly but surely in the #22 Commodore.

While they were 25th fastest in the 31-car field, both spent the day becoming familiar with their machine, which finished second at Sandown last year with Skaife and Todd Kelly driving.

However they will receive a two position penalty added to their qualifying spot tomorrow due to completing one too many laps over the course of the day.


Mark Skaife (#2 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ - Chassis #054)
"Garth and I both commented that the first set of tyres today were not that great. We used them for most of the session to get our heads around what the car will be like as a racing car rather than a qualifying car and we were pleasantly surprised. We made some changes and made a lot of gains, so that encourages us."

Garth Tander (#2 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ)
"We ran a good lap at the end of the session but had to come in because we were out of laps. The car was fantastic. I didn't much of the second half of that session and I jumped in at the end and the car was really good. There's no real compromises between Mark and I, we've just gone and been fast straight away. We want to make the car as fast as it will go and that's the way to go about winning this race. Although it's a long race on Sunday, it's still better to be at the front of the pack, even today when the times don't count for the grid." Jim Richards (#22 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ - Chassis #050) "The car is great, no problems, but we didn't get many laps in today so we aren't quite up there yet. To be honest we probably won't start from where we want to, but I suppose you could say that we are getting in good practice prior to Bathurst."

Ryan Briscoe (#22 Holden Racing Team Commodore VZ)
"Today was all about learning the track and becoming familiar with the car, every lap I was doing was getting better and better, though I am looking forward to taking up some more speed tomorrow."

Rob Starr (Team Manager)

Car 2
"We worked through the car set up during the session and we were able to dial the car in setting a reasonable pace and towards the end of the session both drivers were happy."

Car 22
"The young blokes got to learn the circuit a bit more and Richo has to dial himself in. They are going as well as can be expected, you don't expect them to be up there at this stage of the weekend."

-credit: hrt