Whincup fastest in Supercars practice

A sizzling day of practice has Jamie Whincup confident about his chances at this weekend’s Supercars event at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway.

The Holden superstar was quickest across two sessions on Friday, narrowly ahead of Nissan’s Rick Kelly and Red Bull Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen in searing heat.

Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin and Scott Pye of DJR Team Penske rounded out the top five – who were separated by just 0.0747 seconds.

In fact, the top 23 cars of the 26-strong field were covered by only 0.6678secs.

Series leader Mark Winterbottom, who is driving a new car this round, was back in 10th, while Holden rival Craig Lowndes was a lowly 22nd.

Six-time champion Whincup, 36 points behind Winterbottom in the championship, said he was much happier with his car having had a test day between the last event in Winton and this weekend.

“It’s better than it’s been for three or four months,” he said.

“I think the test day has helped us. It doesn’t guarantee results, though – we have to grind on.”

The Holden Racing Team struggled on Friday, with Tander in 24th and James Courtney 17th.

The factory-backed outfit made a radical change for this weekend, bringing in two new engineers for both cars in a bid to instil a bit of confidence in the drivers.

Robb Starr is running Courtney’s No.22 Commodore, while team research and development manager Alex Somerset is in charge of Tander’s No.2 entry.

Drivers will get a final practice session on Saturday morning before qualifying at 11:40am (CST) and a 42-lap race at 4:15pm.

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