James Moffat set the pace in the opening V8 Supercars practice session of the weekend at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.
The Volvo driver languished in the second half of the standings throughout the majority of the hour-long session, before rocketing to the top with a 51.886s with just 30 second left to run.
The time was good enough to leave him 0.04s clear of Triple Eight’s Jamie Whincup, who had gone fastest inside the last 10 minutes with a 51.936s.
“It is only Friday, so I won’t get carried away. But it’s much better to be up that end of the time sheet than at the other end,” said Moffat.
“That was a good, solid session for us. We got through quite a few changes, and the good thing was that every time we made a change, it got better.
“The trick is try and keep it there for the rest of the weekend.”
Lowndes, who had been top two third of the way through the session, wound up third fastest despite being just over a half a tenth behind Moffat, while Brad Jones Racing driver Tim Slade was fourth thanks to a last-second improvement.
Will Davison, James Courtney, and Jason Bright all improved inside the last three minutes, bumping Mark Winterbottom, Lee Holdsworth, Cam Waters, and Shane van Gisbergen – who had been in the Top 5 – back to positions eight-to-11 respectively.
The first 25 cars were covered by just 0.925s, with less than two-tenths between Moffat in P1 and van Gisbergen in P11.