Slow start for Winterbottom at Sydney V8s

Shane van Gisbergen has left V8 Supercars’ championship contenders Mark Winterbottom and Craig Lowndes in his wake with a pair of hot practice runs ahead of this weekend’s season finale in Sydney.

The Holden driver was convincingly faster than the rest of the pack on Friday, topping the timesheets in the round’s first two sessions at the Homebush street circuit.

His lap of one minute 27.8837secs in the second was 0.7secs quicker than Jason Bright’s Commodore, with Ford’s David Reynolds third fastest and Lee Holdsworth fourth.

“The car’s fantastic and we’re on good tyres,” said van Gisbergen, who is leaving Tekno Autosport for Red Bull Racing next year.

“It’s pretty promising. I like this place.”

Title leader Winterbottom was 1.6secs slower than van Gisbergen and 13th in the second session, having crashed his Ford into the tyre wall at turn one earlier in the day.

The damage – mostly cosmetic – was repaired but still a blow for Winterbottom, who is chasing his first ever V8s crown.

“I gave the guys a bit of work,” he said after his first run.

“It wasn’t a big hit, it just sort of nudged the panels in.”

Championship rival Lowndes, who is 179 points behind Winterbottom on the drivers’ standings, was 11th quickest.

The drivers will have one more 30 minute practice on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s two 37-lap races.

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