V8 Supercars championship leader Mark Winterbottom has suffered an early blow at the Sydney 500, crashing his Ford in the first practice session of the weekend on Friday.
Winterbottom slid his Falcon into the tyre wall at turn one of the Homebush street circuit with about 10 minutes of the half-hour session remaining.
The damage only appeared cosmetic, with his team at Prodrive Racing Australia working hard to get it fixed before the day’s second session.
“I gave the guys a bit of work,” said Winterbottom, who finished 10th.
“I thought it had a bit more grip than it did.
“It wasn’t a big hit, it just sort of nudged the panels in.
“It’s pretty greasy, pretty slippery out there.”
Winterbottom holds a 179-point lead over Holden rival Craig Lowndes ahead of the season’s final round.
Lowndes was 13th fastest in the session, topped by his future Red Bull Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen with a lap of one minute 28.6455 seconds.
“We were quite pleased,” said Lowndes.
Ford’s Scott Pye was second quickest, ahead of PRA’s David Reynolds and Holden driver Jason Bright.
Two more practice sessions are scheduled for Friday.