Whincup breaks Tasmanian Supercars record
Posted on 04/25/20 7:42 PM
Jamie Whincup has smashed the Supercars lap record in Tasmania under a new qualifying set-up.A new qualifying format has lit up practice at the Supercars meet at Symmons Plains, with Jamie Whincup leading allcomers and smashing the lap record.
The reigning champion on Friday scorched the Tasmanian circuit, taking almost half a second off the record to chart a 50.5609 second lap.
The reason is clear: for the first time, practice counts for something.
A safety-minded review of qualifying at the tour’s smallest circuit opted to split qualifying into three 10-minute brackets, so that no more than 16 cars were on the track at any time.
The top 10 includes the three Triple Eight drivers, both DJR Team Penske Falcons, early-season hope David Reynolds and 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom.
They are exempt from the first 10-minute qualifying block, in which the bottom-16 cars from practice will race.
The fastest six of that session join practice’s top 10 in the second 10-minute block.
Then, a final 10-minute run from the top-10 finishers from the second block confirms a grid.
“In practice, the game has really changed,” fifth-fastest finisher Shane van Gisbergen told Fox Sports.
“Normally, we’d save a bit but you’ve got to put down a good marker so you’re in that top 10.”
Scott Pye was second quickest in the morning session, sneaking into the top 10 in ninth.
He gave the changes the thumbs up.
“It’s good for the fans at home. It means when we all do times like that, it’s representative. And it gives us a bit of an idea as well,” he said.
Hitting a top-10 time in practice guarantees a place in the first eight rows on the grid – and allows pit teams to save tyres.
Fabian Coulthard suggested he’d never seen such a competitive practice.
“By the amount of guys that were going off, it shows that everyone is having a fair crack at it,” he said.
Craig Lowndes, who enjoyed his best day of the season to chart third, said there was improvement to his Commodore after a forgettable n Grand Prix meet.
“The car’s working much better this weekend.
“We always go well down here. I’m happy in the car. That’s a good combination.”
Simona De Silvestro was desperately unlucky to finish 11th by three hundredths of a second, recording a hot lap after she’d required a tow out of the gravel trap at the hairpin.
Chaz Mostert, fourth in the championship, is the highest-profile driver to be forced to start in phase one.
TOP 10 PRACTICE – Straight to qualifying phase 2:
* 1. Jamie Whincup (Holden)
* 2. David Reynolds (Holden)
* 3. Craig Lowndes (Holden)
* 4. Scott McLaughlin (Ford)
*5. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden)
* 6. Fabian Coulthard (Ford)
* 7. Mark Winterbottom (Ford)
* 8. James Courtney (Holden)
* 9. Scott Pye (Holden)
* 10. Tim Slade (Holden)