FORD hit back in Practice 2 at the Coates Hire Melbourne 400, with Scott McLaughlin setting the fastest time of the round so far.
The Shell V-Power racing Team driver displaced reigning series champion Jamie Whincup with his final lap of the session, recording a 1:55.298 around the Albert Park circuit.
Whincup, who topped Practice 1, was 0.142s slower in second place while McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard was third.
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The performances from both Shell V-Power Racing drivers represented a significant step in Ford’s quest to claw back ground from their Holden rivals, who are thriving with their new ZB Commodore.
Coulthard, who placed fifth in the first session, put his improvement in Practice 2 down to a combination of better set up and an affinity with the circuit.
“It (the Albert Park circuit) is pretty tricky. We have a reference point which we think works, but the tyre is slightly different this year so we have to re-evaluate. So far, so good though,” Coulthard said.
“I enjoy this place. I’ve had success here in a number of categories including Formula Ford, Carrera Cup and now Supercars. It is a track that agrees with me.”
Nick Percat and Scott Pye backed up strong Practice 1 performances with the fourth and fifth fastest times in Practice 2, with both drivers breaking the 1m56s barrier.
Nissan drivers Rick Kelly and Andre Heimgartner placed sixth and seventh, jumping seven and eight places respectively from Practice 1.
David Reynolds, Shane Van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom — who placed last in Practice 1 after receiving a kerb strike on his only timed lap — rounded out the top 10.
Qualifying for Race 3 of the Supercars season begins at 4:20pm AEDT.