Cameron Waters has continued his rapid run of pace in the build up to Sunday’s Repco Bathurst 1000, topping practice three ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and Chaz Mostert.
It was an interesting session, with teams trying all sorts of different things before qualifying takes place later today. Waters’ time was two tenths clear of his nearest rival, with second place to 10th covered by just three tenths of a second.
Practice three had initially been slated to be a session exclusively for co-drivers, but the decision was made late to instead open it up to main drivers, too. This resulted in a session where teams tried all sorts of different things with driver time allocations, with some teams using the session to hone their car’s pace over longer runs.
As opposed to yesterday’s second practice and most of the week’s build-up, the conditions were warm and cloud-free.
For the first 10 minutes the majority of the field decided to put their co-drivers behind the wheel, with Garth Tander and Lee Holdsworth setting the pace. It wasn’t until 15 minutes into the 60-minute run that a main driver threw down a representative time.
That time came from Brodie Kostecki; the Erebus Motorsport driver setting a rapid 2:05.135. This continued the series rookie’s strong pace from yesterday, with his co-driver David Russell also starring in co-driver practice.
Kostecki had run a backwards strategy to the rest of the grid, with everyone else persevering with co-drivers in their cars for several more minutes. Nevertheless there were still a few impressive times being put on the totem; including a strong 2:05.724 from Bathurst 1000 rookie Zak Best to be best-of-the-rest.
Teams started to roll out their lead drivers just prior to the session’s halfway mark, with van Gisbergen, Will brown, Scott Pye, Andre Heimgartner, and David Reynolds among the first to hop behind the wheel.
By the halfway point a flurry of main game laps had shook up the top 10. Kostecki still led (Russell now behind the wheel), ahead of Best, Garry Jacobson, Todd Hazelwood, van Gisbergen (the time having been set by Tander), and Mostert (his time also co-driver based), with Nick Percat, Brown, Tim Slade, and Anton De Pasquale rounding out the top 10.
One of the notable improvers as the session’s last 20 minutes approached was veteran Russell Ingall. The Supercheap Auto pilot clocked a credible 2:06.244 to put himself temporarily in eighth.
Two big laps kicked off the last 20 minutes; a 2:05.425 from Randle putting the Boost Mobile Mustang in second, and then a sharp 2:04.982 from van Gisbergen to elevate the No. 888 Commodore to the lead of the session. His time was the first ‘four’ of the weekend, following the low ‘fives’ of practice one and two.
With 10 minutes to go, most cars were in pit-lane, and there was little indication of a typical hurried all-in mass qualifying simulation. Van Gisbergen still led, with Russell, Courtney, an improved De Pasquale, Le Brocq, Jacobson, Pye, Hazelwood, Mostert, and Cameron Waters the top 10.
The field began filtering back onto the track with seven minutes to go, with some lingering in the lane longer than others. Slade was the first to post an improved time, jumping to third. With four minutes left De Pasquale improved to second, firing in a 2:05.041.
With two minutes left, De Pasquale was displaced by Whincup, and then by Mostert in rapid succession. The margin between the top four was miniscule; just six hundredths of a second separating them.
As the clock struck zero, it appeared that just one driver had a big lap left in them; being Waters. Both Monster Energy drivers had been quiet most of the session, lingering outside the top 10. But, eager to show his pace, Waters chucked in a superb 2:04.738 … two tenths up on van Gisbergen’s former benchmark and a time that nobody would beat.
In the end Waters led van Gisbergen, Mostert, Whincup, De Pasquale, Courtney, Brodie Kostecki, LeBrocq, Will Davison, and Slade in 10th.
More to come.