In a shot in the arm for defending champion Chaz Mostert, co-driver Cameron Waters has topped the practice timesheets with a blistering time ahead of Bathurst 1000 qualifying.
Mostert’s No.2 clocked an impressive two minutes, 05.72 seconds in the co-drivers’ only practice session on Friday morning.
It was just 0.25 of a second off the all-time fastest V8 lap around Mount Panorama set by Holden’s Fabian Coulthard on Thursday.
Coulthard’s co-driver Luke Youlden was second fastest (2:05.83) ahead of V8 great Russell Ingall (2:06.25), who will partner Jack Perkins on the mountain.
In a relief for six-time V8 series champ Jamie Whincup, co-driver Paul Dumbrell (2:06.28) overcame a frustrating session to post the fourth quickest time at the finish.
Co-driver Waters has big shoes to fill at Bathurst after taking over from Paul Morris who partnered Mostert to a famous last-to-first Bathurst win last year.
But so far so good as the V8 development series driver Waters already helped Mostert finish second in the traditional Bathurst warm-up, the Sandown 500, last month.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be in the 2:05s, I came here aiming to be in the 2:06s,” said Waters.
Drivers are only expected to go faster on Friday.
Coulthard said he expected his record to fall in Friday’s qualifying session.
Drivers have also been tipped to shatter the 300kph barrier for the first time on the famous Conrod Straight after the introduction of a new gearing set-up at Bathurst.
Teams have removed a “rev-limiter” which had stopped acceleration and restricted top speeds to 297kph.
“I think it’s going to be a good one for people to watch this afternoon, times are going to tumble,” said Ford gun and series leader Mark Winterbottom.
His co-driver Steve Owen was sixth fastest on Friday morning.
Renee Gracie, one half of the first all women pairing at Bathurst since 1998, was slowest in the 27-strong field (2:09.40).
Her partner is Swiss star Simona de Silvestro.
They have hit the track for the first time since Ford driver David Reynolds was fined $25,000 for making an offensive remark towards them.
Reynolds’ co-driver Dean Canto was ninth quickest in Friday’s session.
The fourth and final practice session featuring all drivers will be held from 1140 AEDT with qualifying starting at 1550.