Shell Helix Ford racer, Steve Johnson, landed himself in the Top Ten Shootout for round ten of the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series at Mount Panorama, confirming his place among the favourites for Sunday's Bathurst 1000.

Johnson's Ford Falcon was lightning quick in the day's practice session, being among the fastest runners for the duration of the session, before finishing sixth with a time of 2min 09.1136secs. When it came to the qualifying session, however, a nail-biting session saw Johnson slip from third fastest to tenth in the final minutes.

"The rain came down and we thought out third place was safe," he said, "You always expect a couple of guys to pull out a quick one towards the end of the session, but not that many and certainly not in the rain. We sat it out once the heavens opened because there didn't seem to be any point using up tyres and risking the car on a wet track.

"But it started to dry out and a bunch of guys started whipping out amazing laps. By the time we realised that we were in danger of being bumped from the top ten, it was too late in the session to get another lap in. There was a time when everyone was chasing a 2min 10 - no-one was expecting to be looking at the high 2:07s. Today's times were phenomenal."

Johnson's regular team-mate, Max Wilson, qualified the other Shell Helix Falcon in 14th for Sunday's big race. The Brazilian, partnered on this occasion by Australian hero David Brabham, would have almost certainly made the top ten if a red flag had not stopped him when he was on a charge.

"Both drivers did a fantastic job, today," team owner Dick Johnson said, "Now we just have to keep our eye on the ball and work towards Sunday's race."



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