Fabian Coulthard looms large to reignite his V8 Supercars Championship in Darwin despite the fact Ford’s David Reynolds obliterated the track record in practice.
Kiwi Coulthard was one of seven cars not to run the generally faster soft tyre compound in the two hour-long sessions at Hidden Valley today and was still right on the money.
Reynolds cracked the lap record in both practice sessions that were largely dominated by his Prodrive Racing Australia team before Coulthard loomed late on hard tyres to jag third. Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom was second and Chaz Mostert fourth in the Pepsi Max Falcons.
Coulthard is noted for his speed on the soft compound Dunlop’s wherever he races but with a freshly laid new surface at the SKYCITY Triple Crown he could have a big weekend ahead.
He currently sits third in the Championship just 86 points behind Winterbottom and 74 to Red Bull Racing’s Craig Lowndes. Coulthard has the highest finishing average of the field.
“The car’s been pretty good you know, we’ve stuck to our program and sort of back there for most of the session and we were able to do good long simulation runs and the car was pretty good,” He said.
“We generally find the weakness in our car is the hard tyre so the most we can get and make it the bet we possibly can on that we’ve got a fair handle we think on how the soft tyre’s going to perform,” Coulthard said.
“I don’t want to speak too soon but the car’s generally, its’ strength is on a soft tyre so hopefully we give it a run tomorrow.”
Reynolds continued the domination of Prodrive in recent events, joining the party that Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert have been enjoying. He is also a known fan of the softer compound.
“This year has been good for our new FG X program and our whole four cars,” he said.
“Every time we turn up to a new track we’re constantly chopping and changing bits out and we rolled out on hard tyres and circled around 8.0 or something, and then put soft tyres on at the end and the car really, really liked it.
“But I think Mark’s (Winterbottom) obviously got the hard tyre worked out, he’s a few tenths quicker than me on the hard tyre, but my car tends to suit the soft tyre a bit better.”
After a decision by the V8 Supercars Commission to mandate a set of each compound in each Saturday race driver will qualify on both, then competing in a hard tyre and soft tyre race.
“Come tomorrow it’s going to be pretty challenging because we’ve got one qualifying on a hard tyre then 10 minutes to qualify on softs so we’ve got to work out what’s the best way to go about it and be pole in both,” Reynolds said.
Championship leader Winterbottom is confident his form won’t be broken in Darwin, a track that has largely been recently dominated by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes who have been in an unfamiliar position of playing catch-up.
“It’s good the soft tyre was not, different quality of soft tyre, so when we put new ones on it’s going to be interesting. Everyone put hards on at the end that’s sort of where you benchmark yourself and car’s good.
“It actually feels really nice. It’s funny, the track surface is massively better as well. The best part about our sport is when you get new tyres on a new track and you can really drive the wheels off it. It’s really cool, really good fun and we’ve seen it on both tyres so we’ll see tomorrow.”
Lowndes and Whincup did not feature for most of the day but climbed into seventh and ninth respectively ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
Media: Sports Media NZ