Championship leaders Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have continued their dominant start to the V8 Supercars season with the Red Bull Racing Australia drivers topping the practice charts in Tasmania.
In both practice sessions the Red Bull VF Commodores were among the pace-setters before a final flurry in the day’s final session saw Lowndes go fastest in 0.51.37 and Whincup second quickest with a time of 0.51.44.
The all-new VF Commodores made up nine of the top 10 positions.
“We’ve come a long way in the two practice sessions we had on the back of testing last week,” said Lowndes, who currently sits first in the championship after a race win and podium finish in Adelaide last month.
“The rear end is nicer here and we can run curbs better than we have in the past. There are only a few corners here so you have to make the most of it. The car is nicer through turns six and seven than it was last year and hopefully that will translate to better tyre life on Saturday.
“We’ve now got some ingredients and things we can change on the car that we know will make us quicker. We’re getting used to changing from the new tyre to the more used tyre and making adjustments to the car that will suit that tyre. I’m looking forward to race day tomorrow.”
Reigning series champion and 2012 Tasmania race-winner Whincup admitted he could be a little more comfortable in the new Commodore, but is adamant he will be far more competitive over the weekend than he was in Adelaide and the Australian Grand Prix.
“My car’s been a bit of a handful and trying to bump me off all year but we had a great test day a fortnight ago and today it’s a bit of a relief because the car feels much, much better,” he said.
“We have reasonably good tyres and with green tyres at the end there we’re a little bit disappointed we didn’t maximize on that. But all in all, we are much stronger than what we were in the first two race weekends of the championship.”
The cars will return to Symmons Plains for a final practice session tomorrow morning, followed by qualifying and the first of three races for the weekend.
Lowndes needs just one race win to beat Mark Skaife’s record for most wins in V8 Supercars and Australian Touring Car Championship history.