Winterbottom grabs top spot in final Bathurst practice

Although Frosty puts FPR on top yet again, his accomplishment was eclipsed by mayhem on the track.

Winterbottom grabs top spot in final Bathurst practice
Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen
Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen
Mark Winterbottom and Steve Owen
Warren Luff, HRT and Craig Lowndes crash
Warren Luff, HRT
David Reynolds and Dean Canto
Jason Bright and Andrew Jones
James Moffat and Taz Douglas
Garth Tander and Warren Luff
David Wall and Steve Johnson
Fabian Coulthard and Luke Youlden

Showing that the defending Bathurst champion is still on the charge despite not taking the top spot in qualifying yesterday, Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver, Mark Winterbottom, took his Pepsi Max Ford Falcon to the top of the charts once again in practice. With a time of 2:06.063, ‘Frosty’ is on par to shine during the top-ten shootout later today.

The best of the rest

Once again finding himself towards the front of the pack as well, the #33 Volvo driver, Scott McLaughlin grabbed the second spot and was only .05 seconds away from ‘Frosty’ with a 2:06.120. The Volvo is proving to have the pace it needs to compete with the Ford and Holden juggernauts.

Finally appearing to have the mechanical issues behind him, Shane van Gisbergen completed the practice session in third with a 2:06.480. He was followed by the only other Holden in the top-five which was driven Jason Bright. Completing the event with a 2:06.816, Bright represented Team BOC well but was still almost a half second away from SVG.

Rounding out the top-five, and finally making his Bathurst stand, was the young Scott Pye. Although he didn’t manage to get into the 2:06s, Pye still finished strong with a 2:07.070. Pye had stated earlier that he believes he has what it takes to make a podium finish or better but so far, Pye has yet to fully shine.

Dale Wood, James Moffat, James Courtney, Nick Percat and Craig Lowndes completed the top-ten

Massive accident

On the topic of Lowndes, these fast lap times were somewhat eclipsed by what took place earlier in the practice session. A huge crash between the #2 of Warren Luff and #888 of Craig Lowndes saw Luffy on his roof after smashing into the back of his former co-driver. The impact into the back of Lowndes sent his car into the air momentarily as he crashed into the tire barrier. A true sportsman, Lowndes was quick to get out of his car and run to the aid of his former teammate to ensure his safety. Once Luff was safely removed from the Holden Commodore, Lowndes gave him a hug.

Citing that he had “no brakes” going into Turn 2, Luff couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

“I’m just gutted for the whole team,” said Luff. “It’s been a big week…hopefully we can get it back together and get it out there tomorrow.”

It was a huge blow to both teams as they were each the sole representatives for their respective teams in the shootout. Both cars had secured spots in the event after qualifying yesterday but their involvement now remains in jeopardy.

Where’s Coulthard?

Unable to replicate his record-breaking lap from yesterday, the provisional pole-sitter, Fabian Coulthard, was found mid-pack during practice today. He finished up in 14th with a mediocre time of 2:07.922.

With the final practice session complete, the teams involved in today’s top-ten shootout later today will be hard at work in preparing their cars for the event which will determine the starting order tomorrow. But after today’s events, at least two teams will certainly have their work cut out for them if they hope to even make the 2014 Bathurst 1000.

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