Winton Supercars: Mostert fastest in crucial practice
Chaz Mostert led the way in a crucial single practice session ahead of today's Supercars race at Winton.
Damp conditions meant times were back in the mid-1m30s for much of the first 10 minutes, Tickford pair Mostert and Cam Waters setting the pace on wet weather rubber.
Fifteen minutes in the switch to slicks started, Richie Stanaway and Simona de Silvestro among the first to brave the conditions on a dry tyre.
Stanaway proved the crossover point had well and truly been reached on 17 minutes when he went quickest with a 1m29.588s.
That sparked a stream of improvements at the top, times quickly dropping down to the 1m23s, led by Waters and Fabian Coulthard.
With 15 minutes to go the session was briefly stopped thanks to Lee Holdsworth beaching his Tickford Mustang at Turn 4. He did manage to get the car out unassisted, but not quick enough to avoid a red flag.
When the session restarted Tim Slade jumped straight to the top with a 1m21.758s, only for Scott McLaughlin to immediately go quicker with a 1m20.893s.
The Penske driver found more pace on the same run, setting a 1m20.117s with 10 minutes to go. He then returned for a final run with five minutes, improving to a 1m19.867s.
McLaughlin's late improvement wasn't quite enough, though, Mostert able to pip him at the post with a 1m19.642s.
It was a well-timed lap, too, coming just seconds before Stanaway binned his Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden at Turn 6, which brought the session to a premature end.
Holdsworth recovered from his earlier spin to end the session third behind Mostert and McLaughlin, James Courtney the best Holden in fourth.
Rick Kelly led the way for Nissan in fifth, with a gaggle of Holdens comprising of Shane van Gisbergen, Scott Pye, and Jamie Whincup next in line.
Waters and Winterbottom were the final two to book an automatic Q2 berth by ending practice inside the Top 10.
Some big names will need to go through Q1, Will Davison and David Reynolds just 11th and 12th fastest respectively.
Coulthard, meanwhile, was caught out by the Stanaway red flag and ended up stranded down in 15th.
“A bit of a bugger," said the Kiwi.
“We went out on a set prior to this one and the boys didn’t quite tighten the wheel up properly, so I had a loose right-front.
“We lost a bit of time in that, but the car is good. It’s good in the wet and it’s good in the dry, it’s just unfortunate we weren’t able to do a time there at the end.”
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Winton Supercars: Mostert snatches pole from Coulthard