The first day of Supercars’ Melbourne 400 at the Australian Grand Prix proved a mixed bag for a few teams with Turn 5 barriers getting shortened after incidents in practice and qualifying for the Supercars field.
Debuting his new look Mustang with support from FLEX Power Tools, James Courtney (No. 500 FLEX-Wash It Ford Mustang) posted the second-fastest lap in Practice 2 and after qualifying tenth for Friday’s Race 6, the 2010 Supercars champion led the team with seventh in Race 7 qualifying.
Thursday’s qualifying results were similar Cam Waters (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford Mustang), who qualified seventh and 11th for Races 6 and 7 respectively, however the 27-year old showed strong pace across Thursday’s practice sessions offering Waters confidence in contending for more silverware in the weekend’s races.
Thomas Randle (No. 55 Castrol Racing Ford Mustang) celebrated his 26th birthday behind the wheel of the Castrol Racing Mustang, and qualified an impressive ninth for Race 6, the best such result of his still-young Supercars career. Randle later enjoyed taking the passenger seat as childhood hero and fellow Castrol-supported driver Fernando Alonso took the birthday boy for a handful of laps of the Albert Park circuit.
Supercars sophomore Jake Kostecki (No. 56 Tradie Ford Mustang) showed top 10 pace in practice on Thursday, but the 22-year old’s day came undone during Race 6 qualifying, where he spun at Turn 5 and made heavy contact with the barriers. Kostecki was checked and cleared by medical staff following the incident, however did not register a lap in qualifying and as a result will start Races 6 and 7 from the 25th position.
Meanwhile Broc Feeney handed the keys over to Red Bull Racing driver Sergio Perez who had the first taste of a Supercar at the Melbourne circuit. After heading out for some laps a delighted Perez returned to the pits and had this to say
“The braking was the biggest challenge,” Perez said.
“The braking efficiency, coordinating the corners is quite different.
“But it’s really good fun; the amount of kerb you’re able to take, you’re limited with that in F1. I was able to use the whole track.”
Unfortunately for Feeney this would probably be the highlight of his day after a bad start to the day after putting the car into the wall. He mentioned having to rebuild his confidence during the day and looking forward to a better day 2.
“I didn’t have a great start to the day. I only managed to get three laps in Practice 1 and then I put my car in the fence, and that not only ended our session, but I lost valuable track time which was a real shame. The boys got the car back out there for Practice 2, but that was another rough session for me because I was lacking a lot of confidence after my crash, but the main thing was we got the car running and we did as many laps as we could. Qualifying 1 was a lot better. I felt a lot more comfortable, even though I only got one lap in the session and ended up P17 which sounds terrible, but for me was a big positive because I felt a lot more comfortable. When we went out for Qualifying 2, I had a decent run and put it on the second row in P4. I feel back at home after losing a bit of confidence during the day, but it’s great to bounce back, and onto tomorrow.”