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Round 2 Eastern Creek - Part 1 Practice Sessions

5/4/2004 16:00 (Danielle Schwerin) - The Practice Sessions:

Strangely enough, despite my lack of copy, there is plenty to say about the practice sessions for Eastern Creek’s round 2, the problem however is where to start.

Friday - Practice One
Ingall finished Friday afternoon almost .4 of a second up on nearest chaser Skaife, Lowndes finished the day needing another engine change (the third damaged one in 3 events), and David Krause didn’t even venture out. And this doesn’t even begin to discuss the antics of the post race press conference.

It took less than one flying lap for the action of the weekend to start, with Paul Weel returning to pitlane, with what appeared to be a heavy oil leak, after having completed only his outlap.

Despite the lack of testing, the FPR cars appeared to have found some form with Craig Lowndes temporarily topping the timesheets after his 6th lap, with half the session run. The success was short lived however as the engine present in Craig’s car would soon require a replacement, that put him out of the end of the session.

Skaife too blew his engine, but both escaped the penalties of the one engine rule that was introduced this year, due to it’s only applying once qualifying has begun.

Clearly though, Ingall had the tyres on the day, pulling his car .38 seconds up on a field that had 11 cars inside a second.

Top Ten:
P1 9 Russell Ingall Caltex Havoline Race Team
P2 2 Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team
P3 50 Jason Bright PWR Performance Products
P4 11 Steven Richards Castrol Perkins Motorsport
P5 12 John Bowe Ozemail Racing Team
P6 29 Paul Morris Sirromet - Life, Style, Wine
P7 23 David Besnard WPS Racing
P8 1 Marcos Ambrose Pirtek Racing
P9 88 Paul Radisich Team Betta Electrical
P10 44 Simon Wills Holy Grail Wines/Alphawest


Saturday - Practice Two
Once again Rusty territory, this time topping the sheets by mere hundredths of a second from Paul Weel and Marcos Ambrose, with the clocks officially running for the round. The field this time had closed the gap, with 19 cars now inside a second, and all bar 5 cars inside two seconds.

This session however was slower than that of Friday, owing to the deterioration of the practice session tyres being drawn from the teams existing tyre banks.

Craig Lowndes’ new engine seemed to be performing better than the previous, putting him .29 behind Ingall for a temporary second place. Mark Skaife, however, was not doing so well dropping back to 15th, with neither HRT car in the top ten.

David Krause made his first venture out onto the track in this session, though he was 4.8 seconds off the pace behind David Thexton who was a second ahead, which would have seen him qualify.


Top Ten:
P1 9 Russell Ingall Caltex Havoline Race Team
P2 16 Paul Weel PWR Performance Products
P3 1 Marcos Ambrose Pirtek Racing
P4 6 Craig Lowndes Ford Performance Racing
P5 11 Steven Richards Castrol Perkins Motorsport
P6 88 Paul Radisich Team Betta Electrical
P7 50 Jason Bright PWR Performance Products
P8 12 John Bowe Ozemail Racing Team
P9 23 David Besnard WPS Racing
P10 10 Jason Bargwanna Larkham Orrcon Racing


Saturday - Practice 3
The surprise of this session definitely had to be Team Kiwi, with 021 temporarily landing in second spot and only being pushed back to 4th overall, a time good enough to keep them in the combined top ten.

Triple Eight’s Wilson and Radisich, showed some definite improvement, putting their cars P1 and 2 respectively. While Ingall remained up the charts in third, and the top five cars were spilt by less than .1 of a second. Marcos Ambrose was looming just outside the top ten in 11th position.

In this session the 1 second margin flowed down to David Besnard in 21st position and some noteable drivers were not in the top 50% including both the Kmart cars, who had been slow all weekend, and Craig Lowndes.

For the third session running Warren Luff had out-paced his teammate Steven Johnson, this time by 18 places. Car 99, David Thexton, was still looming inside the 105%, 4.08 seconds behind Wilson.


Top Ten
P1 888 Max Wilson Team Betta Electrical
P2 88 Paul Radisich Team Betta Electrical
P3 9 Russell Ingall Caltex Havoline Race Team
P4 021 Craig Baird Team Kiwi Racing
P5 50 Jason Bright PWR Performance Products
P6 18 Warren Luff Shell Helix Racing
P7 22 Todd Kelly Holden Racing Team
P8 2 Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team
P9 29 Paul Morris Sirromet - Life, Style, Wine
P10 44 Simon Wills Holy Grail Wine/Alphawest

Combined Practice 2 & 3
P1 888 Max Wilson Team Betta Electrical
P2 88 Paul Radisich Team Betta Electrical
P3 9 Russell Ingall Caltex Havoline Race Team
P4 021 Craig Baird Team Kiwi Racing
P5 50 Jason Bright PWR Performance Products
P6 16 Paul Weel PWR Performance Products
P7 1 Marcos Ambrose Pirtek Racing
P8 18 Warren Luff Shell Helix Racing
P9 22 Todd Kelly Holden Racing Team
P10 2 Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team

Despite all this, any driver will tell you that practice sessions are a real lucky dip, and not necessarily a great indication of who will end up where in the race, or even qualifying. Until those new tyres, dedicated to the round at hand, go on to the vehicles in preparation for qualifying no one knows just exactly what the car is doing. After all the driver who failed to complete anything past his tyre change in the last round is sure to have some sweet rubber to play with, for practice.