David Reynolds beat Shane van Gisbergen to top spot by 0.001s at Phillip Island, while Craig Lowndes ended the session in the wall after a high-speed tyre failure.
Reynolds won out after a shootout with van Gisbergen in the closing minutes of the session, the Erebus driver slotting into second with a 1m30.928s before leap-frogging van Gisbergen on the second lap of the stint with a 1m30.847s.
That meant the 1m30.848s, which van Gisbergen had set just seconds earlier after switching to better rubber for his last run, left the Triple Eight driver 0.001s short of top spot.
“It’s awesome,” said Reynolds. “Last year we came here our car was pretty bad, this year it’s a different team environment and my car was magical as soon as I drove out the gate.
“Any time you can drive a nice balanced car around here, it’s a good track.”
Todd Kelly (Nissan) and Will Davison (Tekno Holden) both benefitted from a final run to finish up third and fourth respectively, ahead of Lee Holdsworth (Team 18 Holden), who had been second with a little under three minutes of the session remaining.
James Courtney (HSV Racing Holden) and Tim Slade (BJR Holden) improved with better rubber at the end to finish sixth and seventh, while Fabian Coulthard was eighth – and best placed of the DJR Team Penske Fords – despite ending the session stuck in the gravel.
The Kiwi had a high-speed off at Turn 3 on his final run, a tyre failure sending him through the gravel trap and leaving him just short of the wall.
Craig Lowndes wasn’t quite that lucky. The veteran wound up with a very bent Triple Eight Holden after a right-front tyre failure at Lukey Heights, which pitched him into the tyre barrier at speed.
Lowndes reported that he was uninjured in the crash.
“It’s a bit disappointing; we were on our last lap, but the right-front tyre blew as we were exiting the right-hander out of the Hayshed,” Lowndes explained.
“You don’t want a right-front going on a left-hand corner, so I became a passenger. With all of the rain the grass becomes an ice skating rink. I actually skipped across the gravel trap pretty quick, so the only thing then is the earth wall.
“I’m okay, we’ve just got to see how the car is.”