Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters has topped the first one-hour all-driver practice session at the Repco Bathurst 1000, leading Chaz Mostert and Will Davison.
It was a mixed session for some of the pre-race favourites, with Anton De Pasquale appearing the struggle for pace and Shane van Gisbergen spoiling his last attempt. The pair ended the session 15th and seventh respectively.
Before the session could even truly get underway the red flag was thrown for the stranded car of Macauley Jones. Coming off an engine failure at the last event at Sydney Motorsport Park, this pause was caused by a reported steering rack issue.
Jones stopped on the run to Sulman Park, leaving a trail of fluid in his wake. He eventually rejoined the session in the closing minutes.
Most teams had their leading drivers at the helm in the opening minutes. Pace kicked off in the mid-2:05 bracket, with Brodie Kostecki, Todd Hazelwood, and Mostert the first to do better than a 2:06. Soon Will Brown joined them, putting both Erebus Motorsport entries in the top four.
With 25 minutes to go, Brodie Kostecki’s 2:05.555 had still survived at the top end. Mostert, Hazelwood, Brown, Anton De Pasquale, Jamie Whincup, Nick Percat, David Reynolds, Davison, and Tim Slade filled the top 10, with newly crowned 2021 champ van Gisbergen in 14th.
Barring the initial red flag the session was largely incident free. A few drivers could be seen testing the limits, with Hazelwood having a big slide at Reid Park, and Garry Jacobson losing some of his right-front fender for unknown reasons.
It wasn’t until 12 minutes to go that someone pipped Kostecki’s time. This came via a 2:05.492 from Cameron Waters. He didn’t sit at the top for nearly as long, with Mostert throwing down a much quicker 2:05.107.
As the last 10 minutes descended more cars peeled out of pit-lane for a qualifying run dress rehearsal, many of them bolting on fresh green tyres. A handful of entries, meanwhile, put in their co-driver for the last few minutes. Hazelwood and Scott Pye did this, handing the controls over to Dean Fiore and James Golding respectively.
Both Shell V-Power Racing cars appeared to struggle. While the duo improved on green tyres ahead of the last five minutes, they only jumped to sixth and eighth respectively. Davison would eventually recover, with De Pasquale less successful.
Mark Winterbottom was a surprise improver late in the session. With three minutes left he leaped to second via a 2:05.398.
The last three minutes were chaotic as predicted. Waters was first to throw down the gauntlet, reclaiming the top spot with a 2:05.023 … stunningly equaling the time he set 12 months prior in the equivalent Bathurst 1000 session to the fourth decimal place.
As the closing seconds arrived numerous cars posted improved sector times, although none looked on target to threaten the Monster Energy Mustang. Davison, James Courtney, and Tim Slade were the biggest improvers late, but none could beat Waters, ending practice one on top.
Behind Waters, Mostert, Davison, Courtney, Winterbottom, and Slade filled the top six.
Van Gisbergen looked set to post an improved time in his last run, but ran wide through the grass at The Chase. He had to settle for seventh, with Hazelwood, Nick Percat, and Brodie Kostecki (having skipped the last phase of the session) filling the top 10, with just half a second covering the group.
Whincup narrowly missed the top 10, ending the hour 11th. De Pasquale was four spots behind in 15th, after failing to improve in his final run. The Supercheap Auto wildcard entry of Broc Feeney and Russell Ingall was two positions further back in 17th.