‘NOT MY DECISION': RAIKKONEN'S FERRARI EXIT
The seven-time champion and his long-time co-driver fired the first warning shots of the endurance season after producing the two fastest times of the day in practice.
In a clear statement the No. 1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore would be the car to chase at Sandown, Dumbrell set the track alight in first practice with a lap record of 1min07.8467sec in the co-driver's only session.
He lowered the previous practice record set by Whincup — who he is teaming up with in the endurance races for the seventh year — in 2014.
Whincup then backed it up with the fastest time (1min07.9688sec) in second practice, the only session for the main Supercars drivers on Friday.
The Holden ace led a Red Bull one-two, with teammate and championship leader Shane van Gisbergen clocking the next best time ahead of Walkinshaw Andretti United's James Courtney.
The first five cars were Holdens, with Tickford Racing's Cameron Waters the best of the Ford drivers in sixth. Championship contender Scott McLaughlin was 11th fastest.
Whincup said it was a strong start for himself and Dumbrell, but they still wanted to find more improvement for the weekend's racing.
'We've generally had a quick car here, we've just made rookie errors and mistakes later in the weekend,' Whincup said.
'So we're not getting carried away with car pace, we'll just keep our head down and try to minimise errors later in the weekend.
'We'll keep the concentration, keep the head down and we need to keep improving the car, but just minimising mistakes — that's the key.'
Whincup sits third in the Supercars championship standings, 362 points behind Van Gisbergen and 343 behind second-placed DJR Team Penske rival McLaughlin.
There are 900 points up for grabs between the three endurance races at Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast, but Whincup said he was not looking any further ahead than Sunday's race.
'We're not looking at championship points or counting those, we're here to just do the best job we can at the Sandown 500,' Whincup said.
Whincup said the Sandown track surface was 'radically different' to how he had ever seen it before after works to fill in cracks on the surface and was bracing for challenging conditions for qualifying in the wet on Saturday.
'It's a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is and it could be back straight New Zealand material come tomorrow when it rains,' Whincup said.
'We've got to be a little bit careful and I think the sensible thing will be to throw the safety car out early if it's wet and see what the conditions are like.'
Will Brown (Anton de Pasquale) delivered the fastest time in the third practice session for the co-drivers, but Whincup and Dumbrell were the only drivers to venture below 1:08.
Track Guide: Sandown 5000:00
Sueprcars Trackside: Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall run through the key parts of the Sandown circuit ahead of the RABBLE.club Sandown 500.
September 13th 2018
a day ago
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