As he prepares for his V8 Supercars debut on his home track, Mercedes’ Ash Walsh is setting himself up for an upset result.
The Erebus rookie’s first full season as a V8s driver hasn’t entirely gone to plan with an eighth-place finish in the second race of the year in Adelaide his only top 10 result for 2015.
But the 27-year-old showed on Friday his local knowledge could become a factor across this weekend’s Ipswich SuperSprint event at Queensland Raceway.
Walsh was the fifth fastest in Friday’s practice sessions, clocking a best lap of one minute and 10.1368 seconds at the 3.12km circuit.
The hometown hero says the result will give him encouragement ahead of Saturday’s two 20-lap sprint races.
“We had a good test day here last week so it was good to utilise some of the things that we learnt on that day and come out firing,” Walsh said.
“We still have to tune it up a little overnight but I walk away from the day feeling pretty happy.
“Obviously tomorrow is a new day and the track is probably going to be different again but it was nice to have a good day and we’ll see how we go.”
If Walsh is to upset the V8s field he’ll need to overcome Ford’s Chaz Mostert, who clocked the fastest lap of the day on Friday and will be looking to continue the fine qualifying form which has delivered him six pole positions in the last 11 races.
He’ll also face competition from Holden’s Tim Slade, who’ll reach the milestone of 200 V8 Supercar starts in the second race of the afternoon on Saturday.
Slade was third-fastest in practice on Friday and will also be aiming to take his opening pace into Saturday’s qualifying runs.
Saturday’s action begins with a final practice session from 10am AEST with two qualifying sessions shortly afterwards to determine the starting grids for each of the afternoon’s races.