Jamie Whincup lowered Pukekohe’s lap record even further to round out a frantic day of practice in New Zealand.
A red flag for debris eight minutes from the end of the 30-minute session framed it perfectly for qualifying simulations in the closing minutes, with Triple Eight driver Whincup emerging on top of a frantic final four minutes with a 1m02.118s.
That means he replaces teammate Shane van Gisbergen as the fastest man ever around Pukekohe, lowering the 1m02.4s benchmark van Gisbergen set in the second session earlier today.
“I’m getting there,” said Coulthard. “It’s mega across the top here, gives me good confidence. I think it’s a little bit of fine tuning from here.”
While Whincup set his best time with the best part of four minutes to go, DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard left it much later to get the best out of his qualifying sim. The Kiwi popped up in second with 30 seconds to go with a 1m02.182s, slotting in behind Whincup by just 0.03s.
Prodrive Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and van Gisbergen staged a see-sawing battle for third over the closing minutes of the session. With just over a minute to go Winterbottom jumped into contention with a 1m02.209s, only to be immediately knocked back a spot by van Gisbergen’s 1m02.207s.
But Winterbottom found another gain on his next lap, grabbing third with a 1m02.182s and resigning van Gisbergen to fourth.
James Courtney was fifth quickest after making a decent gain on greens, holding off the Commodores of Will Davison, David Reynolds, Garth Tander, and Jason Bright. The DJR Team Penske of Scott Pye was 10th.
In terms of big names out of the Top 10, Triple Eight’s Craig Lowndes missed out for a third time today after managing just the 12th best time – despite having been quickest with five minutes to go. He still faired better than Chaz Mostert, who was 14th fastest after hitting the wall at Turn 4 int he closing stages of the session.
Both Volvos missed out as well, hometown hero Scott McLaughlin remarkably off the pace back in 19th after running wide on his green tyre run at the end of the session.