The third round of the 2010 V8 Supercars Australia Championship Series through the streets of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide has begun in familiar fashion for reigning champion Jamie Whincup, albeit in the last 30 seconds of practice today.
Having swept the opening four races of the new series in the Middle East, despite swapping manufacturers from Ford to Holden, Whincup conceded: “Having come from billiard table smooth tracks like Abu Dhabi and Bahrain everything feels so much bumpier here.
“The streets highlight the difference over bumps, kerbs and getting close to the concrete walls. It was hectic to get a clear lap and it didn't help when I got 'sin binned' for two minutes for jumping over the turn two kerb like a lot of other drivers.
“We started off with big (handling) issues and were forced to make two changes at once rushing all the way. By the time you go out, make a lap, come in then do it again it all becomes a bit of a blur so I'll have to sit down and analyse the data tonight.
“We need to make the car easier to drive but then that makes it slower so it is a fine balance to make the car faster but not too hard to drive as you need confidence.”
Emphasising his increased maturity and prowess was 20-year old Kiwi Shane Van Gisbergen who finished second quickest in the SP Tools SBR Falcon.
After registering career best podium finishes in the Middle East, Van Gisbergen said: “We were struggling a little bit early in the last session until we threw some springs into the car. I put another set of tyres on at the end to go for a time but then got held up by some traffic on both my last two laps. It is pretty hectic as you just have to switch your headlights on and go for it!
“We had a strong car towards the end of last year and have kept working on it. It feels pretty cool to be aggressive at this track as you can get into it and scrape the mirrors against the wall. It has a lot of atmosphere and is a good place to be at.”
A solid third was Paul Dumbrell's Bottle-O Falcon, run as a satellite team by Ford Performance Racing.
In eclipsing regular FPR duo Mark Winterbottom (14th) and Steven Richards (8th), Dumbrell said: “This is only my third race for a new team and there is no doubt that the car is good: 'Frosty' has already proven that. At the end we decided to run 'greens'' (new tyres) to get my head around qualifying tomorrow but these cars do things remarkably differently and I have to reset my baseline.”