Sandown 500: Rick Kelly keeps Nissan on top

Nissan Motorsport’s Rick Kelly timed his run to perfection to top a second rain-affected practice session at Sandown.

Sandown 500: Rick Kelly keeps Nissan on top

This morning’s wet/dry session for the co-drivers was followed by an entirely wet 30-minute session for the regular drivers, the conditions varying along the way but at no point drying completely.

While the times floundered in the 1m25s for the first few minutes, it was James Courtney that set the first representative lap with a 1m22.334s.

That time lasted until the 11-minute mark, when Prodrive Racing’s Chaz Mostert took over with a 1m22.108s.

The next 10 minutes saw the best of the conditions, Mostert putting in a pair of faster laps to improve down to a 1m21.251s.

On the 18-minute mark Rick Kelly made his move, going third quickest with a 1m21.654s before jumping to the top with a 1m20.504s.

His improvement was followed by quicker laps from Garth Tander (1m20.766s) and Mostert (1m20.867s), before more rain arrived around the 24-minute mark and the times dropped off.

That sealed P1 for Kelly, following teammate Dean Fiore’s session-topping time earlier today.

“It’s always fun to be fast,” said Kelly.

“Obviously it’s quite wet, so everyone is just circulating and feeling what their car is like in the wet. Ours is pretty strong. I think last time I won a race was here in the race – maybe I’ll go home after this session!”

The session didn’t run its full course, the red flag coming out with four minutes left to run. The culprit was DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard, who ended up in the wall after spinning coming over the hill.

“It happened very fast,” said Coulthard.

“It’s a quick corner anyway, and with a combination of the weather and how slippery it is, we came a cropper. Unfortunately I’ve given a fair bit of work to my guys, it just happened so quick.”

The rain meant that the times weren’t likely to change anyway, Kelly followed by Tander, Mostert, and Courtney in the final standings.

Shane van Gisbergen was sixth fastest ahead of Triple Eight teammates Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

James Moffat capped off a decent session for Garry Rogers Motorsport with eighth spot, while Coulthard was ninth fastest despite his crash.

Scott McLaughlin struggled for pace throughout the session, adding to the Penske’s squad’s misery. The points leader wasn’t too fussed with a lack of rear grip, however, saying his focus was on banking laps.

“It’s hard… it wasn’t as wet at the start then it got wetter and wetter and wetter as the practice went on,” he said.

“I was just trying to get some laps in in the wet. I don’t think it’s going to be wet in the race, but it’s nice to get an idea of what the car is going in both conditions.

“It was alright; we were pretty bad traction wise all session, so we were trying to work on that. The front of the car felt really good, but we need to work on that. It’s nice to have some changing conditions and to have a go.”

ClaDriverCarTimeGap
1 15 australia  Rick Kelly  Nissan Altima 1'20.5047  
2 33 australia  Garth Tander  Holden Commodore VF 1'20.7664 0.2617
3 55 australia  Chaz Mostert  Ford Falcon FG-X 1'20.8671 0.3624
4 22 australia  James Courtney  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.1035 0.5988
5 97 new_zealand  Shane van Gisbergen  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.5933 1.0886
6 888 australia  Craig Lowndes  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.7190 1.2143
7 88 australia  Jamie Whincup  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.7473 1.2426
8 34 australia  James Moffat  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.7650 1.2603
9 12 new_zealand  Fabian Coulthard  Ford Falcon FG/X 1'21.7940 1.2893
10 6 australia  Cameron Waters  Ford Falcon FG-X 1'21.9162 1.4115
11 2 australia  Scott Pye  Holden Commodore VF 1'21.9753 1.4706
12 8 australia  Nick Percat  Holden Commodore VF 1'22.1283 1.6236
13 17 new_zealand  Scott McLaughlin  Ford Falcon FG-X 1'22.3691 1.8644
14 95 australia  Will Davison  Holden Commodore VF 1'22.4227 1.9180
15 5 australia  Mark Winterbottom  Ford Falcon FG-X 1'22.5472 2.0425
16 78 switzerland  Simona de Silvestro  Nissan Altima 1'22.6218 2.1171
17 14 australia  Tim Slade  Holden Commodore VF 1'22.7339 2.2292
18 9 australia  David Reynolds  Holden Commodore VF 1'22.7930 2.2883
19 3 australia  Alex Davison  Holden Commodore VF 1'22.9150 2.4103
20 18 australia  Lee Holdsworth  Holden Commodore VF 1'23.2816 2.7769
21 23 australia  Michael Caruso  Nissan Altima 1'23.3585 2.8538
22 21 australia  Tim Blanchard  Holden Commodore VF 1'23.5000 2.9953
23 7 australia  Todd Kelly  Nissan Altima 1'23.6252 3.1205
24 56 australia  Jason Bright  Ford Falcon FG-X 1'23.6954 3.1907
25 99 australia  Dale Wood  Holden Commodore VF 1'23.7723 3.2676
26 62 australia  Alex Rullo  Holden Commodore VF 1'24.9758 4.4711
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