With both regular drivers and co-drivers hitting the tarmac on Friday in the first two practice sessions for Sunday’s Wilson Security Sandown 500 the on track action certainly lived up to the hype and only stoked the fire future before Saturday’s all important qualifying. In a day where comebacks were sealed, hopes were built, and many heads scratched thehairpincorner ironed out four things we learned from Friday practice.
Prodrive sitting pretty at the top
If Friday form is anything to go by, then Prodrive certainly must be classed among the favourites for victory come lap 161 one Sunday. With Mostert, Winterbottom and Reynolds slotting in just behind Whincup in FP1. Last year’s Sandown winner lead the field with a 1.09.5169 to leave the Holden 0.1 seconds clear of Mostert in second. With Owen and Waters filling the top two slots in the afternoon’s FP3, the signs are looking ominous that if they can hold it together, Pepsi Max Crew will be standing on (or very near to) the top of the podium come Sunday. Mostert and Winterbottom must be careful not to trip over each other in Sunday’s race, because with both drivers very much in contention for the title, any slip up at the Enduros could well become costly come the Sydney 500 at the end of the year.
Ambrose back in style
We were delighted last year when ex-champion Marcos Ambrose announced his return to V8 Supercars with DJR Team Penske. After stepping aside before the Tasmania Super Sprint for teammate Scott Pye, Ambrose returned the series with a bang putting in a brilliant 1.09.836 to end the day in third place. Definitely a driver to watch through tomorrow and Sunday, if DJR qualify well, then Ambrose could well find himself in and around the top ten come Sunday’s race.
Volvo’s luck can change
It’s about time Scott McLaughlin’s luck began to change this season. After a super 2014, luck has really not been on the side of the Gary Rodgers Motorsport Volvo’s this season and after finishing 5th in last years championship bagging numerous wins and podiums, McLaughlin finds himself down in 11th this year, with only one 2nd place to his name. There can be no doubt the talent is there, and with his 100th V8 Supercars start due on Sunday, the Sandown 500 would be a fitting time to bag a historic result. With McLaughlin 9th in FP1 and Premat 4th in FP3, the pace is certainly there to spring a surprise on Sunday.
Whincup – Dumbrell can pull this one off
Their raw pace showed on Friday that if they qualify well on Saturday, Whincup and Dumbrell have a strong chance of holding off PRA come raceday. Although some luck may be needed, missing out on most of Triple Eight’s test day seems to have done the pair no harm. They can only improve from here, and a good shift behind the wheel from the reliable Paul Dumbrell will be key to the outcome of this race.
thehairpincorner updated Sandown prediction: Whincup-Dumbrell could have a sniff at the podium, Prodrive still look set for the win, Volvo could spring a surprise and Ambrose-Pye could scrape the top ten.