Supercars drivers are out on track for the first time of what’s expected to be a wet and wild Bathust 1000 in Thursday morning’s Practice 1 – and it’s already delivered plenty of drama.
All drivers can hit the track in the opening hit-out from 11am AEDT, with another practice session scheduled for co-drivers at 3.55pm AEDT.
But two-time runner-up Cameron Waters saw the session red flagged after just 25 minutes when he ditched his car into the dirt at the final corner.
After being towed out, he drove backwards to pit lane entry, and pulled a cheeky flick spin on the grass to return to the garage – with driving in the reverse direction a move which required special permission from race control.
Co-driver James Moffat joked of his Tickford Racing teammate’s early crash: “It’s better that it happens now than on Sunday!”
Despite concerns from his team that the car would struggle in the looming wet conditions, he added: “I think we can win it, both wet or dry. You can’t control the weather so just get after it.”
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He wasn’t the only driver to struggle early on. Four-time champion Craig Lowndes was forced to utilise the escape road in his wildcard entry 888.
Jack Smith in the Brad Jones Racing number four struggled with early undertray shaking, with the entire front end wobbling – even under acceleration.
“That’s bad,” Mark Skaife said on Fox Sports.
“I’ve never seen it that bad!” Neil Crompton agreed.
Team boss Brad Jones said: “Splitter flap – It’s one of those things you need to get a handle on pretty quick.
“We’ve packed the front of the splitter pretty tight. Full of two-pack foam, put some spacing in and glued them in. You’re never going to get away with that in a race. It’s something we need to get in and try and get on top with pretty quickly and we can.”
“How do you know? It’s one of those things. This has been a problem we’ve had in the past so we’ve got ways of curing it.”
He added they would first replace the splitter otherwise consider fresh foam and spacing, saying: “I’m quite comfortable we’ll get it fixed.”
Macauley Jones told his team he was battling with understeer as he narrowly avoided a run-off, but made it to seventh before the session was halted. Team boss Brad Jones said conditions suited his team.
Rain has fallen consistently in Bathurst and is scheduled to continue over the next four days, setting the stage for an eventful edition of the great race.
Brodie Kostecki said during the first practice session: “It’s pretty sort of scary out there at the moment, to be honest.”
“We don’t know what we’re going to get on Sunday,” he said of the weather, adding he had to “change my dacks” after a couple of near-misses on track.
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Supercars legend Mark Skaife believes the conditions will make for one of the most open Bathurst 1000s in years.
“When you add water, we’re predicting rain for most of the weekend, what you do is double the candidates in terms of who can win this,” Skaife said on the Fox Sports coverage.
“I think if you come in as a dry race there’s probably five or six combinations that are red hot fast. But there’s some mudlarks. When you add the water you add a heap of blokes, you add Craig Lowndes, David Reynolds, you add Andre Heimgartner, Will Brown, Brodie Kostecki, even Richie Stanaway is excellent in the rain.
“So if you add those mudlarks and you then look at the combinations .. there’s probably a “dozen that can win this weekend.”
Every session of the event will be broadcast live on Foxtel (Fox Sports 503) and streamed on Kayo.
FULL SCHEDULE (all times AEDT)
11am -12pm: Practice 1 (all drivers)
3.55pm – 4.55pm: Practice 2 (co-drivers)
10.10am – 11.10am: Practice 3 (all drivers)
1pm-2pm: Supercars Practice 4 (all drivers)
4.15pm – 4.55pm: Qualifying
10.20am – 11.20am: Practice 5 (co-drivers)
1pm – 2pm: Supercars Practice 6 (all drivers)
5.05pm: Top-10 Shootout
8am – 8.20am: Supercars warm-up
8.40am – 9am: Drivers’ Parade
11.15am: Race start (161 laps)
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