Sandown 500: Penske hits back in final practice

Tony D’Alberto helped DJR Team Penske bounce back from a tough second practice session by topping the third and final session of the day at Sandown.

Sandown 500: Penske hits back in final practice

Richard Muscat set the early pace in the #34 GRM Commodore, dipping into the 1m21s while the rest of the field were still back in the 1m22s.

His 1m21.488s kept him on top until the 16th minute, when D’Alberto put the #12 Penske Ford on top with a 1m21.415s – only to be almost immediately replaced by Warren Luff with a 1m21.261s in the #02 HSV Commodore.

D’Alberto wasn’t done there, however, improving with a little over five minutes to go with a 1m20.975s.

The time was good enough to top the session, and turn around the Penske squad’s day after that particular car has finished the second session hanging out of the barriers thanks to Fabian Coulthard’s spin.

“The car felt pretty good then. It’s very slippery though, extremely slippery. It’s good to get accustomed to the track in these conditions because who knows what tomorrow is going to bring.

Luff ended the session second ahead of Muscat, while Steve Owen slotted into fourth in the #55 Prodrive Ford.

Jack Le Brocq was the best-placed Nissan in fifth, while Jack Perkins capped off a decent day for HSV Racing with the sixth best time.

Richie Stanaway was seventh in the #6 Prodrive Ford, ahead of David Wall in the #15 Nissan and Alex Premat in the #17 Penske Ford.

James Golding (#33 GRM Commodore) rounded out the Top 10.

It was a tough session for Triple Eight, Paul Dumbrell the best of the team’s cars down in 14th. Steve Richards was just 20th in #888, while Matt Campbell was 23rd in #97.

“We know we’ve got excellent co-drivers, so when they’re down the bottom clearly the cars aren’t fast,” said #88’s regular driver Jamie Whincup.

“In saying that, we haven’t got a full wet set-up because the weekend is looking like it will be dry. But we genuinely don’t have any pace, which is a little bit concerning for qualifying tomorrow if the track is wet.”

The #5 Prodrive Ford had an even bigger struggle, Dean Canto finishing the session dead last.

 

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