The pace was incredible on the opening day of the 2019 Bathurst 1000, with Scott McLaughlin breaking his 2017 lap record with a flying run around the 6.2km Mount Panorama circuit.
The pace was massively fast in every session, with the times inside the 2m04s bracket in Practice 1 and co-driver times in the 2m05s in Practice 2.
“You’re hanging on over the top now, it’s unbelievable the grip of the cars and I think everyone is having a full dip,” commented McLaughlin. “The second last corner, I dropped a wheel there. That was a moment and a half because I kept my foot into it, I’m an idiot, I’ve got to remember it’s Thursday!
“There’s a little bit here and there, the green side of the car felt alright, so the left-handers were pretty good, but the right-handers it’s still a little bit loose. We’ll tune it up overnight and throw a set of greens on it tomorrow and see. Hopefully it doesn’t rain.”
Rival Shane van Gisbergen finished fourth fastest for the day. “The car wasn’t good in practice one. It was hard to drive, but it got better as we tried to keep up with the track evolving. Garth (Tander) did practice two and he did well. In practice three, the car was good, and the team made some good in-roads from the sessions before; it was easier to drive.
“The new tyres were a little bit off, but it’s not the end of the world. I kept making little mistakes, but also, we’re not 100 percent on the limit, you don’t need to be on a Thursday, so it was a really good start.
“We’re just trying to make it a little bit more balanced across the top to make it easier for us. It’s hard to follow, so we’re going to have to try to come up with a car that makes it easy to pass people or we’re hopefully up front and can race up to cars ahead. It’s going to be a fine line, I think.
” It’s so hard to follow here this year, it’s so much faster. We’ve got more downforce, which means dirtier air. You’re more reliant on the downforce, so when you follow someone you don’t have that clean air.”
The Shell V-Power Racing Team worked on the Coulthard/D’Alberto and McLaughlin/Prémat Mustangs across the day, with ideal conditions in Practice 3 with low ambient temperatures and a dry track allowing drivers to take advantage of green tyres late in the session.
Coulthard and McLaughlin both ran their fastest laps ever around Mount Panorama, with McLaughlin resetting his own lap record with a 2m03.7728.
Tomorrow will see two more practice sessions, and qualifying in the afternoon.