The opening day of the Adelaide 500 saw the heavily anticipated ECB SuperUtes series debut on track for the first time.
Announced in Townsville last season as a reboot to the feeder V8 Ute Racing Series, the ten-strong field features five manufacturers – Ford, Holden, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Mazda – which took the track for the series’ inaugural practice session this morning.
There were early headaches for Team 18’s Holden Colorado entry arriving at the track early this morning after a transport problem from Melbourne on its way over to Adelaide. Fifteen-year-old rookie Tomas Gasperak – the youngest competitor in the series – was forced to head straight out on track and into qualifying without any prior running.
Ryan Harris and his Mazda BT-50 Ute entry set the bar late, spending plenty of time in the pits for the morning practice session before coming out in the closing minutes to top the timing sheets by nearly a full second.
A blistering 1:46.0642 lap was capable from just four laps to take early bragging rights. The top three also included Craig Woods in his #64 Toyota Hilux and Tom Alexander in the other Holden Colorado entry. There were early promising signs with the entire field (bar the aforementioned Gasperak) covered by just 1.7 seconds.
Harris would continue to bring his pace into qualifying by taking out the maiden SuperUtes pole. The Queenslander improved to put down a 1:45.9894 lap this time, nine-tenths of a second faster than Woods and Alexander who repeated their finishing order from the opening practice session.
Harris’ teammate 17-year-old Aaron Cameron brought out the red flag early in Qualifying after making contact with the wall on the exit of Turn 4 and flipping his BT-50 (pictured above). He will still start from fourth thanks to posting solid times before his accident.
Dakar Rally champion Toby Price also had a solid run for the opening day as well however, he could only place within the midfield in practice and qualifying. He will start from fifth in Saturday’s inaugural eight-lap race, which takes place at 13:55 local time (GMT +10:30).
Image via Supercars