SCOTT McLaughlin is the new owner of the Bathurst 1000 practice lap record following a fast-paced day of action at Mount Panorama on Friday.
The DJR Team Penske driver steered his Falcon to a record mark of two minutes and 4.147 seconds during practice session five.
McLaughlin kept up his scorching pace into the afternoon’s qualifying session to come away with the fastest time once again.
His qualifying lap of 2:04.2254 might have been just shy of his mark from practice but it was still strong enough to see off challenges from David Reynolds (2:04.4730) and Chaz Mostert (2:04:5304).
Based on qualifying times the remaining seven contenders in Saturday’s Top 10 Shootout will be Cam Waters, Mark Winterbottom, Fabian Coulthard, Shane Van Gisbergen, James Courtney, Jason Bright and Garth Tander.
In a surprise result Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Jamie Whincup missed out on a Top 10 Shootout spot, qualifying 11th fastest.
Qualifying was a great session for fans of the blue oval as Ford snapped up four of the top five spots.
With the track temperature heating up to non-optimal levels during qualifying McLaughlin was happy just to get close to his record mark.
“The last practice session had better conditions [than qualifying] so we were able to go a little bit quicker. In qualifying it was great to go similar to that pace,” he said.
“The car’s obviously really good at the moment so we’re just going to try and make the most of it.”
McLaughlin was blown away by his car’s pace during the fifth practice session.
“At that speed you’re holding on for dear life pretty much so it’s nice to be able to do three consistent laps in a row and be comfortable each time,” he said.
“We’ve made a few tweaks with each stop. We’ve felt like each time we made it better. The stop between practice and qualifying we didn’t really make things any better, in fact we might have made things a little worse, so we need to work on that.”
Chaz Mostert was the first driver of the qualifying session to get into the 2:04s with a 2:04.7416.
Right on cue McLaughlin knocked Mostert from top spot by going three tenths quicker.
With 20 minutes left in the session the top five – McLaughlin, Mostert, Waters, Winterbottom and Reynolds – had all recorded times in the 2:04s.
McLaughlin bettered his leading mark to a 2:04.3182. Mostert (2:04.5304) and Waters (2:04.5958) each improved their own best times but remained second and third respectively.
Almost all teams brought their cars back to the pits with seven minutes left in the session, preparing for two last flying laps around the Mount.
McLaughlin pulled out his top time during the last blitz while Erebus Motorsport’s Reynolds came up just shy of catching the DJR Penske driver with a 2:04.4730.
Such was the pace of this year’s qualifying session that Courtney’s time of 2:05.0417 would have been enough to beat 2016’s best time from Whincup (2:05.0481).
James Moffat was sitting ninth inside the final minute of the qualifying session but crashed. Because of the incident he lost his best time and went back to 22nd.