Series L&H 500 Friday practice report

V8 Supercars press release

TeamVodafone Finish 1-2 In Final L&H 500 Practice

Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Commodore: Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife
Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden Commodore: Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife

Photo by: Edge Photographics

TeamVodafone's Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife have topped the timesheets in today’s final practice session for the L&H 500 Phillip Island, ahead of teammates Jamie Whincup and Andrew Thompson.

“I’m fitter than I’ve been in a long time and far better prepared than I was last year,” said Mark Skaife.

“We have been going through a detailed program in the last few months to get ready for this. It’s a big ask for any driver to come in for two races, it’s a little like Nathan Buckley making a comeback for a grand final.

“I’m not for a second thinking that last year’s result immediately puts us in contention. We are coming into the two hardest races of the year and arguably the two most challenging tracks here and in the world. Anything can happen.

“What I’m focusing on is enjoying what I am doing over the weekend. It’s also an absolute pleasure to drive for the number one team in the country right at the moment.”

The TeamVodafone entries - separated by .31s - were closely followed by Stratco Racing’s David Reynolds/Tim Blanchard.

Team BOC’s Jason Bright was fourth ahead of SP Tools’ Shane van Gisbergen and Fujitsu Racing’s Lee Holdsworth.

Tim Slade (Lucky 7 Racing), Paul Dumbrell (Bottle-O Racing), Will Davison (Tradingpost Racing) and Fabian Coulthard (Bundaberg Racing) rounded out the top ten.

Garth Tander, fastest in the opening practice, ended today’s final session in 12th.

The 40-minute session was red flagged early when IRWIN Racing’s David Brabham went off track with a mechanical issue.

Minutes later a second red flag was brought out to retrieve Mark Winterbottom’s stranded #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon after an encounter with a stray rabbit on the circuit.

Brabham/Alex Davison recovered to finish 23rd but Winterbottom/Richards did not take any further part in the session, finishing 28th.

The field will undertake two more practice sessions tomorrow morning, ahead of the Qualifying and Grid Sprints to determine the starting order for Sunday’s L&H 500 Phillip Island.

Friday Phillip Island L&H 500 Quotebook


Mark Skaife (#888 TeamVodafone Commodore VE II) “I’m fitter than I’ve been in a long time and far better prepared than I was last year.

“We have been going through a detailed program in the last few months to get ready for this. It’s a big ask for any driver to come in for two races, it’s a little like Nathan Buckley making a comeback for a Grand Final.

“I’m not for a second thinking that last year’s result immediately puts us in contention. We are coming into the two hardest races of the year and arguably the two most challenging tracks here and in the world. Anything can happen.

“What I’m focusing on is enjoying what I am doing over the weekend. It’s also an absolute pleasure to drive for the number one team in the country right at the moment.”

David Reynolds (#16 Stratco Commodore VE II) “I’m actually surprised to be here in the top three.

“I think it was just circumstantial that all the oil went down and I put my green set of tyres on earlier than others. I didn’t expect to be here … I thought I’d be 18th or 20th.

“Honestly, the car was facing the fence most of the lap. It didn’t feel that fast.”

Steven Johnson (#17 Jim Beam Falcon FG) “We really had no tyres to run today to give us a gauge on the car. One set was better than the other, so you then sort of wonder what is wrong.

“We are used to being a lot further up the field this year so it is a bit frustrating. The overall balance is OK but we are really lacking grip on the old tyres.

“I’m sure that we will work through it tonight and get on top of it. Our expectations are high so we are both looking forward to a good qualifying.”

Shane van Gisbergen (#9 SP Tools/SBR Falcon FG) “It was pretty tough missing out on the first session and then in the last session I didn’t get a good run on my new tyres so to finish fifth is reasonable – it probably appears worse than it really is but all things are pointing in the right direction for further development tomorrow.”

John McIntyre (#9 SP Tools/SBR Falcon FG) “It was quite unusual breaking in the car before Shane had done any proper laps today. Our equipment feels really well-balanced which gives you a lot of confidence, which is just what you need around here. The car was good enough for me to be second fastest in my session so I couldn’t be happier. There’s a few small things we’re yet to iron out but there’s still plenty of time left for that tomorrow.”

Tim Slade (#47 Lucky 7/SBR Falcon FG) “I’m reasonably with today’s progress. There’s still some work to do but in general things are pretty good and we’ve got a strong platform to build on in tomorrow’s further practice sessions. Dan (Gaunt, co-driver) had plenty of laps today – he’s comfortable in the car which is good.”

Alex Davison (#4 IRWIN/SBR Falcon FG) “I’m not overly happy with where we’re at – we seem to be struggling with generating the grip we need to climb further up the timesheets. That said, we had two goals today and they were to work through our normal drill of changes to gauge where we’re at and secondly to get David (Brabham, co-driver) up to speed in the car – we achieved both of these so we can push on tomorrow with some fine tuning which should provide some better times.”

David Brabham (#4 IRWIN/SBR Falcon FG) “It was good to finally get back into a V8 Supercar. I haven’t driven one since the Gold Coast event last year so today was all about getting reacquainted with the systems and changes to the car from last year and generally getting a feel for it again – it’s so different to the GT1 car I normally drive! I didn’t do a lot of laps but we have some data now I can study with the engineers tonight and find where I can improve and pull some more time again tomorrow.”

Jason Bright (#8 Team BOC Commodore VE II) “I think we could have looked a lot smarter in the first session had the oil not gone down during my second lap, which was going to be the quickest of the session.

“I think this afternoon was more representative and we actually improved the car on the second outing but had a problem with our gear selector, which prevented us going faster. We're definitely getting to where we need to be.”

Andrew Jones (#8 Team BOC Commodore VE II) “I didn't drive the car at all at the end there. Off the back of P1 and P2 we decided it was better to put Brighty in the car for the whole of P3 and get it tuned. At the end of the day, if we have a good car it doesn't matter who's tuned it and that's his area. I'm confident when the car is good I'll be able to get in it and do a good job.

“We certainly made some reasonably wholesale changes between P1 and P2 going into P3 and I genuinely think P3 was a better indicator of pace. It's definitely more where we thought we'd be.”

David Wall (#21 Fair Dinkum Sheds Commodore VE II) “We didn't do much running in P2 because we had an issue with the steering rack not being quite centered. I did an older tyre run, which gave us some direction for P3 and it all seemed to behave as we thought it would.

“My foot is probably about a seven out of 10 at the moment. By the end of the day I've had enough. I've got the broken part strapped up but the rest of it hasn't worked for 15 weeks and it's only just starting to free up. I've tried to spread the load but over a long run you feel it towards the end. Luckily it's the clutch pedal foot so the most it hurts is going out the pits.”

Karl Reindler (#21 Fair Dinkum Sheds Commodore VE II) “I don't know where we are with the car at the moment. We wanted to put on a set of greens but with the oil on the track there was no point. I jumped in the car just as the oil went down and never really got a good reading of the car. Dave (Wall, co-driver) seems pretty happy though and we were definitely honing in on a good set-up before then.

“The car feels like it's on a bit of a knive edge at the moment through the fast stuff. I'm not sure if it's the mechanics or the wind. It's a bit choppy out there. You go through an aero corner in fifth gear and the wind pushes you wide!"

Mark Winterbottom (#5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon FG) “We didn’t get a chance to put new tyres on at the end as we hit a hare which ran across the track in front of me at Turn 3 which is a fast corner. It stopped at the side of the track and then tried to play chicken with me and obviously lost. The hare hit the middle of the radiator and that put the oil pressure through the roof and I had to stop out on track, which meant we didn’t get to do our green tyre run at the end.

“We just need to tidy the car up a little to improve it. The pace I was doing on worn tyres was good and as we didn’t use as many tyres today we have more for tomorrow which is when it counts so we’ll try and put it in a good position for qualifying.”

Steve Richards (#5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon FG) “It was good to get back into the groove and get an understanding of where the car is at ahead of qualifying tomorrow where we will be able to make the most of the new tyres.

“It was a typical Phillip Island day today as the track improved across the morning as the temperature rose, it dropped off in the middle, then came back a bit at the end. Frosty’s tangle with the hare cost us some time which is never ideal, but the damage was minor so we will be fine tomorrow.”

Will Davison (#6 Trading Post FPR Falcon FG) “Today was OK. We have a bit of work to do as we only used worn tyres, though considering that we are ok and if we did use new tyres we would have comfortably been in the top few cars. Today was all about longevity and working on race set-up and strategy so we weren’t going for lap time today. “There is certainly improvement to come and the balance of the car needs to be improved to ensure we are at the front on new tyres, but between Luke and I, I’m confident the car will be good on new tyres.

“We need a bit more speed to have a pole position car though I’m sure we will work on a few things overnight to improve the car where it needs to and be right up the front tomorrow.”

Luke Youlden (#6 Trading Post FPR Falcon FG) “I felt comfortable straight up but we ran the same tyres pretty much all session though we made changes to counter that so we were always there or thereabouts.

“Unfortunately I was affected by the fluid from Frosty’s car when he had his incident which meant we missed our last run so that is a little frustrating. Tyres degrade here a lot so it is a challenge to set up the car, though everyone is in the same boat so we can’t complain.”

Paul Dumbrell (#55 The Bottle-O Falcon FG) “The car was reasonably good on the older tyres which we ran on today though everyone will have a bit of work to do so I don’t think we are any different from the majority of the field.

“Our plans changed late in the day when Mark (Winterbottom) had his little incident but we have two more sessions in the morning before qualifying so that will give us enough time to do what we need to.

“We also have an extra set of new tyres up our sleeve which will likely be helpful at some point over the weekend so overall we are in pretty good shape.”

Dean Canto (#55 The Bottle-O Falcon FG) “This is the first time I’ve had a good run in the car and to use a set of green tyres near the end certainly put a smile on my dial – it is a nice thing to drive one of these cars on new tyres. Friday is a hard day to read where anyone in the field is as everyone is doing different things with set-up, fuel and tyres, but we are pretty happy overall.

“Paul and I have slightly different driving styles so we need to tweak the car accordingly to make us both comfortable but the engineers will work on that overnight and I’m sure we’ll be strong tomorrow.”

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Tags lowndes, v8 supercar, skaife

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