V8 Supercars' four notable newcomers enjoyed - or endured - differing fortunes in qualifying for the season-opening Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide as they got to grips with the competition for the first time.
No demands were made of local boy Tim Slade, making his championship debut with the Supercheap Auto Racing team this weekend, and the 23-year old responded by performing well beyond any expectations and qualifying 19th, just three spots behind veteran team-mate Russell Ingall..
Where Ingall found himself blocked on his best chance at a top ten time, Slade kept his nose clean and put in a solid lap to make it onto the inside of row ten for both 250km races over the weekend.
“Today's been a great experience and I've really enjoyed myself," he admitted, "I tried not to be too over-awed with making my debut in the main series and, this morning, put everything else but racing out of my mind. The goal was to gain experience and keep it clean, so to have qualified 19th is beyond my own expectations – in fact, if you had offered me a top 20 starting position before the weekend began I would have gladly accepted it with both hands.”
While Marcus Marshall is well-versed in V8 competition, his new Team IntaRacing just missed the top 20 on the eve of its first ever race, with Marshall qualifying 21st fastest, missing the cut for phase two of the session by the narrowest of margins.
“Practice went well considering how long the team has been established," he noted, "We had our fair share of minor dramas, but got these all ironed out during practice so, by the end of the third session, I felt more comfortable in the car.
“Qualifying was a big unknown for us, and I struggled with getting the car to turn at the start, but, by the time we got our heads around everything, it was a bit too late. All in all, though, I am very happy and pumped with the effort today, even if we are in 21st position. Our times were very close to the more established teams and I just can't wait to take to the grid for tomorrow's race.”
Bundaberg Red Racing's David Reynolds will share row eleven with Marshall, having made his V8 Supercar debut in 22nd position after a series of solid laps around the former Australian GP circuit.
In the earlier practice sessions, Reynolds took the time to get a feel for the #24 Commodore, completing 42 laps in all, but a mechanical issue in the second part of practice limited his track time from extending further and hampered his chances of a better qualifying slot.