V8’s Winterbottom not stressed by rain

Rain. Wind. Cloud. A wallaby, some geese and some more rain.

It’s “standard Phillip Island” to title-chasing V8 Supercars driver David Reynolds, who contended with the elements and then some on Friday’s practice day at the coastal circuit.

The driver and team championships are on the line at the penultimate meet of the season.

However, the conditions will not please Mark Winterbottom, with a 239-point lead over the field and nothing to gain from wild weather.

He said the prospect for more rain over the weekend meant there was only one way to avoid trouble.

“Qualify well,” he said.

“Get to the front and try to clear out, that’s the safest way to do it.”

On Friday, drivers were treated to all four seasons across their two practice sessions.

Several geese required shooing off the track before a rogue wallaby skipped across the circuit under sullen skies.

The trickiest period came during the second session, which Scott Pye described as “too dry for wets, too wet for slicks”.

Many garages kept their drivers off the track for long spells to keep car damage to a minimum ahead of Saturday’s two 60km races.

Winterbottom was one of the few drivers to try hard tyres in the second session, topping the timing charts as a result.

Fellow Ford man Pye was Friday’s quickest driver, recording a 1:32.0552 lap during a slightly brighter lunch session.

Pye shared a hopeful forecast for both Winterbottom and the Ford team.

“I think it will dry up, I think we’ve seen the worst of it,” he said.

Winterbottom was coy on how the track could affect his hopes of a first title in a decade in the sport.

“It’s better to be dry because it’s better racing,” he said.

“But wet for everyone, dry for everyone, half wet, half dry, whatever.”

On Saturday, drivers will have just one 15-minute practice session before qualifying begins.

Winterbottom’s closest championship rival, Reynolds, charted top five results in each of the two practice sessions.

Winterbottom’s team Pepsi Max Crew will also look to extend their team series lead over Red Bull Racing, which currently stands at 288 points.

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