Barbagallo: Friday practice report

Murphy pulls out old faithful to top V8 practice session Greg Murphy stepped back into the car that won Bathurst last year in an attempt to gain some more speed with immediate results at the fifth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at...

Murphy pulls out old faithful to top V8 practice session

Greg Murphy stepped back into the car that won Bathurst last year in an attempt to gain some more speed with immediate results at the fifth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth today.

Murphy topped the opening practice session in Perth by more than half a second from Steve Richards and Mark Skaife, with reigning Champion Marcos Ambrose way down in 21st spot.

Recently resurfaced, the quickest times were more than three seconds a lap quicker than at the same stage of the meeting last year, with Murphy estimating his quickest lap today will be thereabouts for pole tomorrow after bolting a new set of tyres on the car.

Thirty of the 32 cars on the track were quicker than the previous lap record even though the session started with rain.

"I didn't think it would be that quick," Murphy said after the session. "It feels really smooth and its got good grip, but if you get off-line you can feel a huge grip difference. There will definitely be one fast line for the race.

"We put a fresh set of tyres on just to see where we were at, you go hard whenever you put a new set of tyres on, but it wasn't quite a qualifying lap - it was tidy and there weren't many mistakes and the car was working well.

"I think, looking at that, it will be a mid-55 or better for pole."

New Championship leader Steven Richards was top dog for most of the session, only losing the first day honours to Murphy in the closing minute of the twice red-flagged session.

Richards said with the new surface it was important to be on the pace right from the minute the cars hit the track.

"I think this circuit was going to be a case of whoever rolled it out of the truck well was going to be the fastest," Richards said. "It is nice to be competitive in the first session because that is what we are here to do."

Richards said he ran the entire session on one set of tyres, and that his times was perhaps more indicative of the speed of the new surface than Murphy on green tyres, Richards topped this session last year with a quick lap of 58.8518s and this year improved by more than 2.6 seconds to set a best of 56.2231s.

Skaife in third agreed. "You need to compare Richards to Richards to get a fair comparison, I thought Greg's time compared with we were at is close to a qualifying time - mid to low 55s maybe."

After a troubled start to the year and seemingly already out of Championship contention, Skaife said it was a just a case of head down and tail up for the HRT.

"It wasn't any bigger struggled than normal, especially given that we were running in half wet at the start and you don't learn anything from that."

Jason Bright was fourth fastest after setting his quickest time near the end of the session, Paul Morris in fifth set his time earlier in the session after sitting idle with a broken alternator.

Sixth was Steve Johnson, with Garth Tander, Todd Kelly, Max Wilson and John Bowe rounding out the top 10.

Ambrose was way down in 21st spot 1.3 seconds slower than Murphy and with a big gap to breach before qualifying tomorrow. Teammate Russell Ingall was not much better, celebrating his 100th V8 Supercar round with 12th spot.

The session was red flagged twice, the first for a stranded Jason Richards who speared into the sand at Kolb Corner down the back of the track (he later finished the session in the same spot after a second spin) and the second for a combinations of Todd Kelly and Steve Ellery.

Kelly landed in the sand at the end of the long straight, while Ellery blocked the entrance to pit lane after breaking his steering after contact with Mark Noske.

Tomorrow sees a full day at Barbagallo Raceway with practice, qualifying, a top 10 shootout and the first of three races for the weekend.

<pre> Top 10 Friday Practice 1. Greg Murphy Kmart Commodore 55.6847s 2. Steven Richards Castrol Perkins Commodore 56.2231s 3. Mark Skaife HRT Commodore 56.2774s 4. Jason Bright PWR Racing Commodore 56.3753s 5. Paul Morris Sirromet Commodore 56.4456s 6. Steve Johnson Shell Helix Falcon 56.5162s 7. Garth Tander Repco Valvoline Cummins Commodore 56.5474s 8. Todd Kelly HRT Commodore 56.5919s 9. Max Wilson Betta Electrical Triple 8 Falcon 56.7040s 10. John Bowe OzEmail Falcon 56.7337s

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Series Supercars
Drivers Max Wilson , Garth Tander , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Paul Morris , John Bowe , Mark Noske , Todd Kelly , Steve Johnson , Steve Richards , Steven Richards