Wayne Gardner Cruises Through Pre-Qualifying For V8 Supercar Opener In Adelaide Former 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner cruised through pre-qualifying for this weekend's Clipsal 500 in his Caltex Havoline Ford at Mallala Raceway ...
Wayne Gardner Cruises Through Pre-Qualifying For V8 Supercar Opener In Adelaide
Former 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner cruised through pre-qualifying for this weekend's Clipsal 500 in his Caltex Havoline Ford at Mallala Raceway today.
Gardner set the sixth-fastest qualifying time of one minute and 8.2217 seconds to easily guarantee himself one of the remaining 11 spots in the 36-car field for the weekend's opening round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series on the streets of Adelaide.
Movement of drivers and change in ownership of team franchises during the off-season means that several high-profile drivers joined Gardner at Mallala today, but there were no real upsets when the chequered flag fell.
Gardner did what was needed to get into the top 11, but more importantly, he used the session to make valuable gains with his car which he had only driven a couple of times previously.
"I guess we really used this as an extra test today and things have been very positive," said Gardner. "I struggled with some front-end grip in a recent test at the Queensland Raceway and had a similar problem in this morning's practice. "It's great news that we have managed to isolate the problem and now we can get on with going faster in Adelaide this weekend."
Gardner has signed a deal to drive several rounds of this year's V8 Supercar Championship Series in a Caltex Havoline Falcon for Stone Brothers Racing and will team-up with regular teammate David Besnard for the endurance races at the end of the season.
Besnard and fellow SBR driver Marcos Ambrose automatically qualified for this weekend's event and watched today's action from the pits.
"It's obviously pleasing for myself, the team and our sponsors to be in the field for the Clipsal 500, but I guess the really pleasing thing is the amount of gains we made today," said Gardner.
"I am heading into the weekend a lot more confident than I was previously. I am looking forward to getting as much time in the car as possible in Friday's practice sessions and then qualifying as close to the front as possible.
"A couple of 250km races is going to make it a long weekend, but we are all ready for it."
Today's pre-qualifying session started with 15 cars with just 11 final starting spots in the weekend's Clipsal 500 up for grabs.
Mark Skaife set the fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:07.4698 and he was followed by Ford drivers Craig Lowndes (1:07.6785), Simon Wills (1:07.7290) and John Bowe (1:07.8027).
Sydney's Trevor Ashby completed the morning practice, but did not participate in the afternoon qualifying session.
The drivers to miss out of the final 36-car grid included Tomas Mezera, Greg Crick, Dugal McDougal and Ross Halliday.