It’s qualifying Friday at Mount Panorama – and it should be a thriller. Two practice sessions take place before qualifying in the afternoon, as the threat of a thunderstorm looms over the mountain.
The rain mercifully stayed away on Thursday, delivering what might be the fastest track conditions of the weekend in the afternoon co-driver session.
Teams will be hoping for more dry running in the opening session at 10.10am AEDT this morning, but the weather forecast for the afternoon is grim.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicts a near 100% chance of rain, “most likely during this afternoon and early evening. The chance of a thunderstorm.”
Sky News declared a 50% chance of rain in the 10am practice, 80% chance during the 1pm practice, and 60% during the 4pm qualifying session.
That makes every minute of track time in the dry even more valuable ahead of Sunday’s Great Race, with the forecast for race day predicting overnight rain to dry up through the day.
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2020 champions Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Garth Tander set the standards on Thursday, with Tander’s afternoon time of 2:04.135s the fastest of the day – and faster than any drivers’ 2021 practice time.
“It was pretty dicey with the mixed conditions,” van Gisbergen said of his morning practice session, after slamming into the wall and narrowly avoiding a disastrous crash.
Their team principal, Supercars and Bathurst great Jamie Whincup, is co-driving for young gun Broc Feeney this time around, but showed he’s not lacking in pace after retiring from full-time driving after last season.
Whincup finished third in the afternoon session, and on Friday he declared he’s “as confident as ever” about his chances of glory come Sunday.
But after Thursday’s practice, he declared the van Gisbergen/Tander drive had the edge, saying: “I don’t think we’re as quick as the other car.”
RICCIARDO KEEN TO WATCH THE GREAT RACE
The Bathurst 1000 is the pinnacle of Australian motorsport, and even Formula One superstar Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he’ll be tuning in this weekend.
Speaking at an F1 press conference in Japan, he said: “I follow it in terms of I’ll definitely watch it — I’ll watch highlights — and try to track a little bit who’s looking quick and stuff like that … But it is a cool race.
“My folks are actually going out, so they’ll be there. I think it’s their first time, so I’m keen to speak to them over the course of the weekend and hear how the experience is going.
“But it is really cool. As a kid watching it you would put the whole day aside and watch the Bathurst 1000 and it was always an event — fond memories of that race, and hopefully it’s a good one this year.”
Davison tops time sheets in Practice 1 | 01:20
FULL SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES AEDT)
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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