Hold tight, everyone — we have a new lap record.
And who else but Scott McLaughlin, who lowered his Mount Panorama practice/qualifying lap record in Practice 3 at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Late in the session, McLaughlin fired in a 2:03.7728 to shave time off his 2:03.8312s lap in the Top 10 Shootout in 2017.
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Practice 2: Crashes headline opening practice sessions
Practice 1: Whincup sets hot pace as Jones crashes
Ultimate guide: Everything you need to know about the Bathurst 1000
However, while McLaughlin’s pace was there for all to see, it was no walkover for the runaway series leader.
Jamie Whincup (#888 Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodore) was just over a tenth behind in second with a 2:03.9327s flyer.
Tickford trio Cameron Waters, Will Davison and Chaz Mostert were all within 0.3s of McLaughlin, with the top four all breaking the 2:04s barrier.
Lee Holdsworth made it four Tickford drivers from P3 to P6, with Fabian Coulthard nearly four tenths down on his teammate.
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Pace has been the theme of the day — in the morning, Whincup led a fast Practice 1, with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver topping the timesheets with a 2:04.6744s.
Whincup was two tenths up on Holdsworth, with the pair the only ones to break the 2:05s barrier.
The session was split in two following a crash for Macauley Jones at The Cutting, but the lap times continued to drop.
By session’s end, it was four-time Bathurst winner Whincup setting the tone with drivers staring down the barrel of the fastest ever Supercars lap at the mountain, set by McLaughlin in 2017.
Last year’s Thursday running was scuppered by rain, which left much to be desired for a form guide.
The year before — the event where McLaughlin set Mount Panorama alight with his 2:03.8312s ripper — saw the fastest first practice time just 2:06.3032s in dry running, set by Chaz Mostert.
The top 10 fastest drivers were all within a second of Whincup’s benchmark in the session, and while McLaughlin’s record lap was still nine tenths away, the 2017 form suggested the record may drop as the weekend rolled on.
Little did we know we’d only have to wait until the afternoon.
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