Shanghai: Friday practice report

Australia's V8 Supercars hit the track in Shanghai, China The V8 Supercar Championship Series laid the first rubber outside of Australia in Shanghai, China, today, proving that the vision of the country's third largest sport had been ...

Australia's V8 Supercars hit the track in Shanghai, China

The V8 Supercar Championship Series laid the first rubber outside of Australia in Shanghai, China, today, proving that the vision of the country's third largest sport had been realised.

The sight of 32 V8 Supercars reaching speeds close to 300 kilometres per hour on the $600 million Shanghai International Circuit was the end of four years of planning and negotiation to make the breakthrough in China.

With the event being well received in Shanghai with news coverage and publicity, the likes of Australian icons Mark Skaife, Craig Lowndes and Marcos Ambrose put their skills on show for the first time.

It was Skaife that won the day on the first time at the track in the two-hour practice sessions that was a mix of humid weather, rain and attempted sunshine. The five-time V8 Supercar champion was fastest for the day heading into qualifying tomorrow.

Skaife headed the times from Jason Bright with another six Holdens joining him in the top 10, as the 32 drivers in the field enthused about the challenging track.

"It was fantastic, not just our car but the track too," Skaife said after the session.

"I thought there was an amazing amount of grip for the conditions when it was wet early. This is probably the number one motor racing facility in the world at the moment, and it is definitely not just another race for us.

"To bring our product to China is a great moment for V8 Supercar racing, and I think it a great stepping stone to further expansion. I was standing at the wall at one stage during the session, and the sound was just fantastic.

"It is going to be a demanding track, and it is going to knock the tyres around a lot with those turns. The track is so wide, and there are some pretty interesting lines being taken at the moment so it is sure to be interesting."

Jason Bright was second fastest in the session, just being beaten by Skaife as the chequered flag came out.

"We spent a fair amount of time out of the car waiting for the circuit to come good," Bright said. "Our car was reasonable, but we've still got room to improve."

Greg Murphy was third fastest, and he said he was humbled by the venue as he completed the circuit's first lap in a V8 Supercar.

"I felt very small, no doubt about it," Murphy said of driving down the pit straight for the first time between the cavernous 40,000 seat grandstand and amazing pit facility.

"You feel very special to get onto a circuit that is as special as this. On the first 10 laps I didn't get Turn One right once. We had a good car all session, and it was nice to drive on a circuit with this much grip.

"You look at the times on a circuit we've never been to and you have 18 cars within about a second and a half of the fastest time on a 1m50s lap and you know we've all done a good job -- when Formula One first came here there was 8 seconds between them."

Garth Tander was fourth quickest in his Commodore after making some changes to his car after a quick visit to the track yesterday.

"After walking the track yesterday we made some changes which didn't work well in the wet, but they were good in the dry," Tander said.

"Both my car and the Team Buick car (Rick Kelly) had understeer all session, and I think I did 28 different laps for 28 different lines in Turn One."

Todd Kelly rounded out the top five, shading his team leader by a fraction more then 3/10ths of a second.

Qualifying starts tomorrow at 12:45 AEST, with a Top 10 Shootout and the first of three races at 5:20pm.

-avesco-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Todd Kelly