Cameron Waters has struck the first blow for this weekend’s Bathurst 1000 Supercars race by topping the qualifying times at Mount Panorama on Friday.
The appropriately named Waters emerged from a wet and slippery session to set a time of 2m23.6168s in the Monster Energy/Tickford Ford Mustang that he will share in Sunday’s race with James Moffat. The result was something of a turnaround for the duo, who suffered a lack of pace during Thursday’s dry practice sessions.
“We’re stoked; we just wanted to make sure we’re in the 10,” Waters said after the session. “We weren’t too bad in the dry earlier in the day [but] with the rain, we weren’t sure.”
Waters topped the sheets ahead of the two men who shared the 2021 Bathurst win. Lee Holdsworth, who has announced he will retire from full-time racing at the end of the year, edged out his 2021 co-driver Chaz Mostert by 0.01s to take second on his Penrite Oils/Grove Racing Ford.
Mostert was third, driving in front of team co-owners Ryan Walkinshaw and Zak Brown, who has taken weekend leave from the McLaren Formula 1 team’s commitments at the Japanese Grand Prix to take in Australia’s “Great Race.”
Shane van Gisbergen was fourth fastest, even after a collision at the top of the mountain with Macauley Jones’s Holden. The series leader hit Jones, who went into the wall rearwards on approach to the Dipper. As a result, the runaway points leader will be penalized three grid positions following Saturday’s top-10 Shootout.
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With due respect to the drivers ahead of him, Richie Stanaway was the star of the session. The New Zealander effectively retired from racing at the end of the 2019 season and returned to the sport only at the urging of long-time sponsor Peter Adderton of Boost Mobile and NZ racing legend Greg Murphy, who last drove at Bathurst in 2014. The duo are racing as one of three “wild card” entries in a Holden supplied by Erebus Motorsport and run, effectively, by a pickup crew made up of experienced staffers.
With the skies opening before the session Stanaway was always going to be the man in the car, but few expected him to run inside the top 10 for nearly all of the 45-minute session, and then leap into the top five in the waning minutes.
Will Davison was sixth fastest in the Shell/Dick Johnson Racing Mustang, repainted for this race in the colors Johnson himself carried when he raced at Bathurst with his son Steven in 1998. This year’s race marks the Australian legend’s 1000th race as a driver or team owner.
Former race winner Nick Percat took seventh in the NTI/WAU Holden he will share with veteran driver (and podium regular) Warren Luff, just holding out veteran James Courtney, who will drive his Tickford Ford with rising star Zack Best.
Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown rounded out the top 10, the Erebus Motorsport regulars not too concerned about being overshadowed on this occasion by “ring-in” Stanaway. Brown was particularly happy, his car being hastily fixed after a crash in the earlier practice session.
The top 10 drivers will go into the single-car Shootout session on Saturday afternoon, with the rest of the grid being headed by three drivers who missed making the top 10 by 0.01s; Anton De Pasquale (Shell/DJR Ford), Andre Heimgartner (R&J Batteries/BJR Holden) and James Golding (Subway/PremiAir Racing Holden).
There are several former Bathurst race winners who will line up from outside the top 10. Jamie Whincup will start Sunday from 14th, Craig Lowndes from 16th, David Reynolds from 18th and Mark Winterbottom from 23rd.
There will be two further practice sessions Saturday before the Shootout kicks off at 5:05pm, Sydney time.
Pos Drivers Sponsor/Team Car Time
1 Cameron Waters/James Moffat Monster Energy/Tickford Ford Mustang 2m23.6168s
2 Lee Holdsworth/Matt Payne Penrite Oils/Grove Racing Ford Mustang 2m23.8296s
3 Chaz Mostert/Fabian Coulthard Optus/WAU Holden Commodore 2m23.8361s
4 Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander Red Bull/Triple 8 Holden Commodore 2m24.0665s
5 Richie Stanaway/Greg Murphy Boost Mobile/Erebus Holden Commodore 2m24.3527s
6 Will Davison/Alex Davison Shell/Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang 2m24.4223s
7 Nick Percat/Warren Luff NTI/WAU Holden Commodore 2m24.5634s
8 James Courtney/Zack Best Snowy River Caravans/Tickford Ford Mustang 2m24.6455s
9 Brodie Kostecki/David Russell Boost Mobile/Erebus Holden Commodore 2m24.7897s
10 Will Brown/Jack Perkins Boost Mobile/Erebus Holden Commodore 2m25.0004s