Shell V-Power Racing Team happy with first practice at Bathurst

Today’s schedule consisted of three Practice sessions, and it was Coulthard and McLaughlin who opened the Shell V-Power Racing Team’s Bathurst 1000 campaign, taking to the track first in Practice 1. 

Practice 1

Coulthard was the first of the teammates to set the fastest session time, with McLaughlin slotting in behind him in P2.

“We’re just working to our plan,” commented Coulthard. “We had some big wholesome changes today to try and get a bit of a direction. So far, so good.

“We’re just sort of ok everywhere, there aren’t any huge strengths or weaknesses. The car next door is fast so we’ll have a look at that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Both drivers reported the track was very “green” and needed some time to rubber up before fully committing. McLaughlin soon found himself at the top of the timesheets where he remained for most of the session.

With 15 minutes remaining, Slade took over driving duties of the No. 17 Mustang but had a nervous moment during his first lap. Triple 8’s van Gisbergen made contact with him at the entry to Forrest Elbow and sent him into a spin. Luckily, he escaped without damage and was able to continue. 

McLaughlin/Slade finished up in P8 and Coulthard finished P17.

Driver change practice for #17

Practice 2
The second session was exclusive to co-drivers only to ensure plenty of seat time before Sunday’s race. Despite D’Alberto and Slade having limited time in a race car in 2020, they started the session well, setting times that put them in the top 5. 

Slade shot to P1 early in the session and continued to improve his lap times as he became more comfortable in the car. At one point he’d opened a gap of three tenths to P2. Halfway through the session, D’Alberto took over the top spot, going 0.14 faster than his teammate.

“It’s been a good day, and I’m pretty happy with how the session went considering I haven’t been in the car in a long time,” said D’Alberto. “Probably the first run was a bit of an eye-opener, but after that, I settled into a good rhythm.

“It’s all looking good at the moment, we’ve just chipping away, nothing too crazy as we’ve still got three days to go. We’re heading in the right direction, and we’re up the front, so it’s a good start.”

Fresh tyres helped Slade make his way back at the top of the timesheet with five minutes remaining, but was bumped down in the final stages of the session. He finished in P3, just 0.05 seconds from P1. D’Alberto was on for the fastest lap before a small error at the final corner cost him time. He finished in P6.

Practice 3
The final session of day one at Bathurst was once again open for all drivers to participate in, but it was Coulthard and McLaughlin who occupied the drivers’ seat for the entire session to continue working on car set up. The No. 12 and No. 17 were quick to exchange P1 between them with McLaughlin getting the upper hand for the majority of the first half of the session. 

“We have been fast all day, but I just made a mistake there on that fast lap,” said McLaughlin. “We’re still chasing a bit of rear stability in the car, but overall I’m really stoked with how we’ve rolled out. 

“Tim has been awesome, he jumped straight in the seat today and hasn’t really driven this car since Tailem Bend. He was really fast, and that was his first go. It was a good day, and I think we are on for a good weekend.”

While car pace was an important focus, the team also took the opportunity to simulate a pit stop, something that hasn’t been part of the Supercars racing format this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Mustangs both put on some fresh rubber for their final run – a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s qualifying session which will take place at the same time of day. While he was on for the fastest time, McLaughlin made a mistake across Skyline and cut his lap, so his time didn’t count. In his final lap, he briefly jumped to the top of the timesheet again before Waters went 0.2937 faster. He finished in P2 while Coulthard was fast enough for P6.

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