Chaz Mostert has topped the final practice session before qualifying at the Repco Bathurst 1000, following a fascinating exchange of lap-times with Shane van Gisbergen, who ended up second.
The pairing swapped quickest laps several times as the session wore on, including during the climactic final minutes. Mostert earned the top spot in the end with a 2:04.208. Cameron Waters rounded out the top three, with Nick Percat and Will Davison fourth and fifth.
The opening stanza of practice four saw several teams working on other elements of their performance, with some practicing brake pad changes and others rolling out significant set-up changes. This was arguably the most important session of the weekend, with team’s making their last changes before qualifying this evening.
It subsequently took quite some time before anyone clocked a 2:05. The time came from Erebus Motorsport’s Will Brown, in the form of a 2:05.174 more than 10 minutes in. His teammate Brodie Kostecki looked set to clock a similar time, only for an error on his green lap to spoil the run.
Few were trying to challenge Brown early, with Mostert, Anton De Pasquale and Nick Percat the only drivers to join Brown in the ‘fives’ with 20 minutes of the session gone. Behind them, Tim Slade was fourth, Fabian Coulthard was fifth, and Hazelwood, Will Davison, David Reynolds, and Andre Heimgartner rounded out the 10.
Brown’s time was a competitive one, underscoring that Erebus Motorsport was tackling the session with a different philosophy to others. De Pasquale came close to beating it at the 34-minute mark, setting a time that was seven thousandths away. But nevertheless the time stood as the session hit 30 minutes.
Brown’s time was finally beaten with 26 minutes to go by Mostert, via a handy 2:04.540. The time scored particular plaudits because of the hot conditions, deemed by some as not being optimal for generating top pace. It was a time that stood for quite some time, surviving a 2:04.602 from Waters just prior to the last 20 minutes.
With 15 minutes left, all eyes were on the dual Red Bull Holdens. Each had taken on green tyres for their penultimate push at the timesheets. Jamie Whincup’s lap was only enough for ninth in the order, with van Gisbergen more successful, promoting him to third.
Their attempts were followed by a flurry of Ford laps. Will Davison and De Pasquale improved to sixth and seventh. It looked like Waters would threaten Mostert’s marker, only for him to run wide at The Chase. With 10 minutes left, the order was Mostert, Waters, van Gisbergen, Bryce Fullwood, Brown, De Pasquale, Davison, LeBrocq, Percat, and Slade.
As you’d expect, the session really picked up in the last seven minutes. In rapid succession Brodie Kostecki jumped to seventh, Percat to fourth, and Courtney to sixth. Kostecki’s time looked on target to rival Waters’, until a couple of mistakes in the last sector.
With four minutes to go, van Gisbergen finally dethroned Mostert with a stunning 2:04.319, putting him two tenths clear of Mostert. The Walkinshaw driver’s rebuttal came just a few minutes later with an even quicker 2:04.208 … and that was with a slide out of the final corner on the dirt.
De Pasquale looked set to also have a go at the lead bunch, but his last attempt was thwarted by a wide moment through the grass at the last corner. His teammate Davison was among the last to improve, moving to fifth in the dying moments.
When the dust settled, Mostert led van Gisbergen, Waters, Percat, Davison, Slade, Courtney, Reynolds, Winterbottom, and Brodie Kostecki in 10th. De Pasquale was down in 14th (behind Fullwood, Brown, and Jack LeBrocq), but with most tipping he would be closer to the front in qualifying.
Absent from the lead runners was Whincup. The seven-time champ ended the session down in 20th.
Andre Heimgartner rounded out the Kiwi full-timer contingent in 16th, with Chris Pither’s co-driver Macauley Jones ending the 60-minute practice 23rd.