V8 Supercar drivers old and new took centre stage at Sandown on Friday, helping set the stage for an intriguing start to the Enduro Cup.
Old hands Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall made successful Supercar returns but were both upstaged by the No.6 Falcon, with two drivers young enough to be their sons.
Chaz Mostert, 23, and co-driver Cameron Waters, 21, stole the show with super practice drives that had the Prodrive Racing Ford as the only car in the top two of the timing charts across three practice sessions.
Mostert was second to Jamie Whincup in the morning’s sole practice session for series drivers.
When the co-drivers took to the track in the afternoon, Waters showed pace beyond his inexperience in the impressive FG X.
Waters was quickest in the first of two co-driver sessions, and was narrowly beaten by Pepsi Max stablemate Steve Owen in the second.
Mostert said if he kept this pace up over the three endurance races, they’d be opponents soon enough.
“He’s definitely in the hot seat for a main series drive at one point, hopefully next year, because he’s quick enough to do it – which is disappointing for me because he’s a nice co-driver,” he told AAP.
Mostert, who sits second in the championship behind Mark Winterbottom, said he enjoyed making the way for young drivers in the sport.
“Me, Scotty McLaughlin, Scotty Pye, Nick (Percat); us four guys that have come through; really have opened the door for younger guys coming through to the main series,” he said.
“Cam’s doing a really good job, it’s exciting having a young team and hopefully we fire up the front this weekend.”
Despite the Ford pair’s speed, the performances of Ambrose and Ingall show there’s life in the old dogs yet.
After stepping aside from his DJT Team Penske drive earlier this year, Ambrose, 39, was back behind the wheel of the Falcon with great success.
The Tasmanian roared to third place in Friday’s last practice session, demonstrating he and Scott Pye in car No.17 would be a factor in Sunday’s race.
Despite being around the Supercars tour all season, Ambrose said he was still adjusting from a decade spent in America.
“My head is used to going 200 miles an hour and not slowing down too much, and the feel from those cars in NASCAR is very different to these (V8 Supercars) so it’s just taking a bit of unwinding,” he told the V8 Supercars website.
Ingall, 51, who retired last year but was drafted into the Holden Racing Team No.22 car after James Courtney suffered a freak pit-lane incident in Sydney, improved to be 11th in the last practice.