Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert has put recent upgrades to good use by being the fastest driver in Friday night’s practice session at Sydney Motorsport Park.
A winner at the track in 2015, the young gun made the best of fresh tyres at the end of the session to be the only driver of the day to lap the Grand Prix circuit in under 89 seconds, putting in a time of 1:28.85.
After leading on the time sheets early on in the piece, he was eclipsed by Walkinshaw Andretti United driver Scott Pye in the second half of the session, fighting back towards the end to claim the fastest time by just two tenths of a second.
Making a return from Barbagallo earlier in the year, qualifying will be split into a knockout format. Saturday’s qualifying sessions will be held in three stages, with those who are in the top ten of the fastest combined practice times having a guaranteed spot in the second qualifying session.
Speaking of the experience after the 40 minute session, Mostert detailed the major differences between driving at night compared to the normal running during daytime.
“I’ve never felt a Supercar to be so quick,” he said after the session.
“You don’t get a judgement of speed when you’re in the patches of dark, you fly into the light and all of a sudden you have to jump on the brake pedal. It’s a bit tricky because you lose the judgement you have around here in the day-light but it’s a lot of fun out there. It’s also a bit cooler in the cabin compared to what we are used to.
“I’m kind of lucky because I’ve never really used brake markers before, I more go off feel and being comfortable which isn’t in the driving handbook of what to do. Normally when you get on the straights in the daylight, you tend to relax your hands and let the car flow but tonight I was tense all the time.
“As we get in to the race and get more comfortable, I’m sure we’ll rely more on the muscle memory but today was tough to try and get into the top ten if tomorrow’s session isn’t quicker. We were doing qualifying laps in the dark and were trying to go that extra ten metres that you’d prefer not to.
“It was a good challenge and good fun doing it out there, they (Supercars) have done a pretty good job for a track that doesn’t have any temporary lighting to try and get the light up there.”
Scott Pye ended up second in the session, only just missing out on going under the 1:29 mark while Mostert’s team-mate, 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom, was third quickest, making it one of the best practice sessions for Tickford Racing this year.
Rick Kelly showed the ever increasing pace of the Nissan Altima, finishing the session in fifth ahead of championship leader Scott McLaughlin who was baulked on his green tyre lap by Will Davison. The Triple Eight drivers of Jamie Whincup, Shane Van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes couldn’t fight in the top five, finishing the session in seventh, ninth and twelfth respectively.
The inaugural SuperNight race will begin at 7:20pm local time on Saturday night, going for 300km and finishing with fireworks along the pit straight.
Image via Keith McInnes Photography