The opening day of the Ipswich SuperSprint started in overcast conditions, although temperatures were still relatively high around the 3.1km track.
Scott McLaughlin and his Car 17 crew tuned the base set-up they worked on at the test last week, making small adjustments to bring it into line with the conditions. The result saw McLaughlin top the time sheets in both Practice 1 and 2.
“The track’s changed a bit since we were here last week, and while we rolled out with the base set-up we tuned at the test day, we’ve changed it up a fair bit across the day to get to a point where we were happy,” said McLaughlin. “Great to be at the top of the sheets, and we know there’s more speed in it so it’s good signs for the weekend. Looking forward to having a go in qualifying and the race tomorrow.”
Chaz Mostert made it a Mustang top three sweep in third, while Matt Stone Racing’s Todd Hazelwood was the fastest Holden in fourth.
Shane van Gisbergen was fifth ahead of Anton De Pasquale, who traded the top spot with McLaughlin in the early stages of the session.
“We began the day with a senor issue which was a shame, but we didn’t lose too much time,” said van Gisbergen. “The crew did have to take the gearbox out to replace the senor. It’s a small thing but in fact it’s quite a big change within the car.
“In the second practice, we were okay with the last run as we ended in fifth. It’s obviously good to be in the second part of qualifying tomorrow. There’s another practice session tomorrow where there are a few things to work on, as despite the car being relatively fast it didn’t feel great. It’s a good start to the weekend so we are hoping to improve from there.”
The Car 12 crew worked with Fabian Coulthard to adjust front-end balance issues, continuing to work across both sessions to make Coulthard comfortable in the car. He finished sixth in the opening session, before taking seventh in Practice 2 to lock in a direct berth into the Q2 qualifying session tomorrow.
“Today turned out to be a little more challenging that we probably thought it would be,” commented Coulthard. “The track has changed a fair bit since we were here testing last week, so we had to work pretty hard on the set-up today. Good to make the Top 10 in Practice 2, so we go straight to Q2 tomorrow and we have another practice session in the morning so we’ll debrief, have a good think about it and be good to go tomorrow.”
Saturday will see the Supercars field roll out for a 30-minute practice session in the morning, ahead of three-part qualifying before a 120km race tomorrow afternoon.