IT was the sight we’d become accustomed to in 2017, and now Scott McLaughlin has repeated it for the first time in 2018.
Scott McLaughlin put his No. 17 Shell Ford to the top of the timesheets in Practice 2 for the Adelaide 500 in a session halted for several minutes due to a crash by Cam Waters.
The Tickford Racing driver was slightly wide at Turn 8 and paid the consequences, his No. 6 Monster Energy Ford hitting the barriers heavily on both sides.
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The turn has been resurfaced since last year’s event, McLaughlin reporting that the fresh tarmac isn’t offering the improved grip most expected.
“Bloody oath, it’s tough work out there,” McLaughlin said.
“Through 8 it’s sketchy, it’s very sketchy this year. Everyone thought it was going to be more grippy but it’s looser, for us anyway.
“I was surprised to be where we were but I’m sure there’s still a lot to come from the people down the lane.”
The sun came out for the second session, and the UV combined with the higher air and track temperatures meant that McLaughlin’s session-topping time fell a couple of tenths shy of Jamie Whincup’s pace in Practice 1.
McLaughlin’s final lap pipped Shane van Gisbergen by just 0.33 of a second, the Kiwi’s time having sat atop the charts for much of the session. SVG had looked poised to improve on his final tour but fell short in the final sector.
The two Brad Jones Racing Holdens came in next, retaining their impressive form at the Supercars preseason test day a fortnight ago.
Nick Percat was the quicker of he and Tim Slade to take third, believing there was still a “good chunk” of time to be found in the car for qualifying.
“I’d like to think we’ve got a good three tenths in that final sector,” he said. “It’s not been too nice coming back into the parklands.”
Waters’ incident was the major headline of the session. Earlier, James Courtney had been the first car to give the Turn 8 wall a proper rub but continued without anything more than panel damage, while Tim Blanchard lost his right rear wheel soon after the session resumed after the red flag.
Chaz Mostert admitted he and his engineering group had become lost in the first session, but rebounded to be fifth in the second dig.
David Reynolds too overcame a jammed wheel nut and an ill-handling car in Practice 1 to sit sixth in Practice 2, with Mark Winterbottom, Fabian Coulthard, Garth Tander and Will Davison rounding out the top 10.
Michael Caruso was again the best of the Nissans, once again leading teammates Andre Heimgartner and Rick Kelly as the Altimas annexed positions 11 through 13.
Craig Lowndes sank to 15th but had spent the session focused on doing a race simulation, with P1 fast man Whincup next in 16th.
The pick of the rookies this time around was James Golding in 18th, 0.949s off McLaughlin’s pace at the top of the charts.
The Supercars are next on track for Qualifying for Race 1 at 4:20pm AEDT.