Defending Virgin Australia Supercars Champion Shane van Gisbergen and teammate Jamie Whincup claimed early bragging rights in practice at the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint on Friday, just ahead of this season’s big improvers, the Ford duo of Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team drivers finished in front the Shell V-Power Racing Team duo of McLaughlin and Coulthard in both of today’s practice sessions, although all four drivers recorded the fastest ever times on Symmons Plains Raceway as they battled it out for early bragging rights ahead of this weekend’s championship racing.
At one stage Coulthard and van Gisbergen traded paint as they ensured neither would gain the upper hand during practice in clear driving conditions in northern Tasmania.
Van Gisbergen said the pair discussed the minor collision after today’s practice session.
“We just had a little word then and I guess we are on completely different strategies,” van Gisbergen said.
“In our first session we are tyre limited so we were running around on hards [tyres] and trying a lot of stuff just to see if it works and I guess he was doing a race run or a quick run on softs.
“Short track like this you are always going to come together and he was trying to get past and I wasn’t going to let him go and we were both trying to do our own program it is what it is, bit of fun.”
Coulthard said it was a bit of fun ahead of a big weekend of racing.
“I thought it was clean and fair and we used to play each other on that a tv game and it looked like a similar block pass so it was all good,” he said.
Whincup was fastest in the opening practice session on a track he has already recorded 11 victories, while van Gisbergen finished with the fastest time of the day in practice two.
McLaughlin was second behind Whincup in practice one and Coulthard putting down the second fastest lap time in practice two.
2016 Tyrepower Tasmania Champion Will Davison and Mobil 1 HSV Racing’s Scott Pye were also impressive during today’s practice sessions.
A strong crowd is expected at Symmons Plains tomorrow for the crucial opening qualifying session for the first SuperSprint of 2017. Just once in the last 21 Supercars races there has the winner come from outside the top three positions on the grid, and that was Whincup who started from fifth in 2012.
Every practice, qualifying and race, as well as support categories, from the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint will be broadcast live, ad-break free on Fox Sports 506 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.