Whincup lowers lap record after recovering from spin
MOTORSPORT: Jamie Whincup lowered the lap record at Pukekohe Park Raceway on Friday, clocking the fastest time in the final practice session of the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.
The Red Bull Racing Holden driver was one of 11 cars to go under the previous lap record Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen had set earlier in the day.
Whincup's time of 1min 2.12sec bettered the 1:02.4611 set by van Gisbergen in the second of the three practice sessions.
New Zealander Fabian Coulthard was second fastest in final practice - 0.19sec behind Whincup - while reigning series champion Mark Winterbottom was third in his Ford. Van Gisbergen, 27, set the fourth fastest time after making a slight mistake at the hairpin on his final flying lap.
Earlier, Whincup spectacularly lost control of his car coming up over the hill on his first flying lap in the second practice session. He dropped all four tyres off the road and spun around on the wet grass but did well to keep the car off the walls.
James Courtney, Craig Lowndes, Nick Percat and David Reynolds all went off in the same spot but avoided major incident.
Two red flags disrupted the second session - the first brought out to clean gravel off the circuit and the second to collect Holden driver Percat after he parked his car in the sand at the hairpin.
Erebus Racing's David Reynolds posted the fastest time in the opening practice session with a time of 1:02.74.
The format of the weekend involves four 100km sprint races with no compulsory pit stops, meaning drivers need to complete 35 laps on one set of hard tyres.
Reynolds thinks that will be a big ask of the tyres.
"Thirty-five laps here is a very long time. It is a track with a lot of tyre degradation,” he said.
"Even if there is a safety car with 15 laps to go, you might see guys jump in and grab new tyres. You get lot of yield for a new tyre.
"If you have nothing to lose you will definitely see people jump in under a safety car.”
With two rounds to go in the championship, Whincup trails van Gisbergen by 148 points.
Two 10-minute morning qualifying sessions will determine the grid order for Saturday's two races, with that format repeated on Sunday.