Shane van Gisbergen is still the man to beat on the streets of Homebush, the Kiwi dominating the second half-hour practice session for the Sydney 500.
Van Gisbergen first jumped to the top of times with a 1m28.399s – to that point the fastest lap of the day – 13 minutes into the session, before lowering that to a 1m28.232s on the very next lap.
But he saved the best to last, pulling out a 1m27.88s flyer right at the flag to leave him 0.7s clear of the field – an advantage he says is largely down to a fresher tyre bank.
“We’ve obviously got a bit of a tyre advantage I think. That’s pretty obvious, you’re never in front of the field by that much,” he said.
“But the car is fantastic, and we’re on good tyres testing what we’re going to have for the race. We’ll put a qualifying set on this afternoon and see how we go. But it’s pretty promising, I like this place.”
Jason Bright was second fastest thanks to big improvement on his last lap, the Brad Jones Racing driver banking a 1m28.593s right at the flag.
David Reynolds and Lee Holdsworth were third and fourth fastest, with James Courtney fifth and Fabian Coulthard sixth.
It was a tough session for the two title contenders, with Craig Lowndes outside the Top 10 again with P11. Mark Winterbottom, meanwhile, was way back in P19 after surviving another tricky moment at Turn 1. This time he opted for the escape road rather than the wall.
Jamie Whincup also had a difficult session, ending the session P13 after nudging the wall at the chicane mid-way through.