Ford's Shane Van Gisbergen topped the timesheets on Thursday at the Yas V8 400 season-opener in Abu Dhabi after two-time defending V8 Supercar Championship Series champion Jamie Whincup had a last-gasp lap disallowed for cutting a corner.

SP Tools Racing's Van Gisbergen's lap of 1 minute 58.2230 seconds, set with six minutes remaining in the session, looked to have been dislodged as the fastest time of the day after Whincup's final lap was a 1m 58.0990s just as the chequered flag was thrown.

"It was pretty cool," van Gisbergen said."The track has got a bit of everything. The firsts sector is quite open, there is the corkscrew in there but it really suited our car. We were quickest in the first sector but. It is really smooth, it is a nice track, the surface is pretty easy on the tyres and the grip level is I would say medium.

"It is just amazing the track. It is awesome. At the end there it just cooled down so quickly when the sun went down. On our second last run I had the sun in my eyes and the next one the lights were on. That was amazing as I haven't had that anywhere else. Tomorrow night is going to be awesome as well racing in the dark."

More than half an hour after the completion of the session, Whincup's lap was disallowed, and the reigning title-holder finished the session in 10th place. It was still a productive day for the champion.

"To be honest I am slightly surprised myself. We didn't have the best test days, but the couple of days off that the guys had cruising round the hotel they could actually, instead of building cars, look at a bit of data and try to go fast," Whincup said.

"We have come a long way in the last couple of days as far as car set up goes, and yes very surprised that we have debuted a brand new car and it is quickest in practice. But I am completely aware that there is a long way to go. Although the car is quick there is still a big question mark over its race pace and we will find out tomorrow."

Behind van Gisbergen was Whincup's teammate Craig Lowndes, almost two-tenths of a second adrift, while Ford's Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing), stablemate Alex Davison (Irwin Racing) and Holden's Jason Bright (Trading Post Racing) rounded out the top five, all of whom were within a second of Van Gisbergen's benchmark time.

The second 40-minute session featuring the entire field was interrupted for nine minutes just before the halfway stage, as Ford's Tim Slade was forced to park his Wilson Security Racing entry on the inside of Turn 4 with smoke billowing from beneath the left side of the car. The potentially dangerous position of Slade's car forced a red flag.

When the session resumed, Winterbottom, Whincup and Bright all took turns at the top of the timesheet before van Gisbergen set the time that would ultimately remain the benchmark.

Whincup led a TeamVodafone 1-2 in the earlier practice session featuring the entire field, emerging 0.1100secs ahead of team-mate Lowndes after 40 minutes.

After two fast laps were interrupted by traffic and a spin respectively, Lowndes finally took possession of top spot with four minutes to go with a 1m 59.6230s, but his time at the top was short-lived, Whincup immediately responding with a 1m 59.5130s set just 60 seconds later.

Behind the dominant Holden duo and rounding out the top five were Ford's James Courtney, Holden's Michael Caruso and Van Gisbergen.

Earlier, Ford's Paul Dumbrell became the first man to top a V8 Supercar session at the Yas Marina Circuit, finishing on top of the timesheets in the first of two 40-minute familiarisation sessions for rookies and the bottom 50 per cent of the field.

Dumbrell, in his first outing for The Bottle-O Race Team and in his first race weekend for Ford after 219 race starts for Holden, posted his session-best time of 2m 01.9710s with 19 minutes remaining. Alex Davison equalled Dumbrell's time with six minutes to go, finishing the session in second place as Dumbrell's identical time was recorded earlier.

Ford's Davison went one place better in the second 40-minute session, finishing on top of the timesheets with a lap of 2m 00.8280s that came with less than three minutes remaining.

Qualifying for the first race of the Yas V8 400 will take place at 2.10pm local time on Friday, with the Top 10 Shootout to be held at 3pm. The first of two 200km races in Abu Dhabi will be held over 43 laps at 6.05pm on Friday evening.