Runaway series leader Shane van Gisbergen was “pretty pissed” with himself after he was lucky to escape serious damage to his car following a hairy moment in opening practice for the Bathurst 1000.
As Ford rival Will Davison fired the opening shot to top the first of two practice sessions on Thursday, van Gisbergen lamented an uncharacteristic error that saw him clip the wall at the top of the mountain.
On a drying track after rain cleared on Thursday morning at Mount Panorama, the defending Supercars champion lost the rears, slid and shaved the wall at Sulman Park but was fortunate he was able to avoid a heavier impact.
But the 2020 Bathurst champion was not alone in finding trouble in opening practice.
The Triple Eight star’s closest championship rival, Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters, and Dick Johnson Racing’s Anton De Pasquale also had issues in a dramatic opening session on a drying track.
Van Gisbergen nursed his car back to the pits after his incident and avoided major damage, but was annoyed with his mistake.
“I just drove it back slowly. I wasn’t sure about the arms, I knew the wheel would be bent but I think the suspension is OK,” van Gisbergen said.
“It’s tough. I just wanted to have a clean session one, so I am pretty pissed at myself for doing that.
“But the car felt good. It’s early days.”
Van Gisbergen and co-driver Garth Tander finished with the sixth fastest time of the session.
After soaking rain in Bathurst over the last 24 hours, the drivers were met with a drying track for the first of two practice sessions on Thursday.
Davison, a two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, topped the session ahead of PremiAir Racing’s James Golding and Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner.
The session was declared early with three minutes still to run after Jake Kostecki ran off the track, sparking a red flag.
Davison said his time had been a “good start” but his bid to better his time at the end had been interrupted by the early finish to the session.
“It’s a good time for what we were able to achieve then, but we didn’t get a full crack at the end,” Davison said.
“It’s a good start for us.”
Waters’ bid to shake off his bridesmaid tag and reach the top step of the podium at Mount Panorama did not start well after he ran off the track mid-way through the opening practice session, triggering a red flag.
Waters, runner-up the past two years at Bathurst, locked up the rears at the final turn and ran off, getting stuck in the sand trap.
The Tickford Racing driver had to be towed out of the sand before making his way back to the pits.
De Pasquale also found trouble when he lost control of his car and spun at Forrest’s Elbow but was also lucky to avoid the concrete barriers.
MOSTERT: BATHURST MISTAKE I REFUSE TO MAKE AGAIN
A relaxed Chaz Mostert is refusing to let the pressure of defending a Bathurst 1000 crown weigh him down after learning from his Mount Panorama title defence seven years ago when he was seriously injured in a horror qualifying smash.
After stunning the grid with his blistering pace to claim his second Bathurst 1000 victory alongside Lee Holdsworth last year, the Walkinshaw Andretti United star has adopted a different mindset as the defending champion leading into this year’s race as he chased back-to-back crowns.
Having claimed a stunning last-lap win at Mount Panorama with Paul Morris in 2014, Mostert admitted he put too much pressure on himself when he returned to Bathurst the following year when he was involved in one of the scariest crashes ever seen at the track.
The crash left Mostert with a broken leg, wrist and knee injuries in the shocking high-speed smash at the top of Mount Panorama, which wiped out the rest of his 2015 season.
Mostert said he was determined not to make the same mistakes with his Bathurst 1000 defence this year by heaping pressure on himself.
“The last time I came here as the defending champion, it didn’t quite go to plan,” Mostert said.
“This year, I’m just trying to replicate how my preparation went heading into last year.
“Last year was fantastic and it was so good to get my second win up there, but I don’t really feel the pressure as much this year as I did when I was back in ‘15. I feel pretty relaxed.
“That really was an eye-opening experience for me and the way I go racing now is a little bit different.
“When I came back last time I was also in the hunt for a championship at that stage so there was a lot of pressure that I was putting on myself.
“Being young, too, all the commitments and things, it was a bit of a messy weekend more mentally than anything.
“Not that I’m putting anything like that down to the crash I had in ‘15, anyone can make that mistake at any time at that time of day with the shadows.
“I wouldn’t say I put it all down to it (the pressure) but I’m sure it all has some toll and factor.
“Even if you are the defending champion, there should be no more pressure you need to put on yourself because this year is a new year.”
While he is refusing to put the pressure on himself and his new co-driver Fabian Coulthard, Mostert will start as one of the favourites for the race after WAU’s blistering speed last year.
In the Commodore’s farewell to Mount Panorama, Mostert said the long-time Holden squad was focused on sending the brand out on a high before its switch to Ford for the start of the Gen3 era next year.
Boasting a long and proud association with Holden, WAU was the factory Holden team until 2016 when the make shifted its backing to Triple Eight.
“It’s been the focus for every event since our announcement that we want to do right by Holden and GM and the rare history it has had with this team,” Mostert said.
“Obviously, we are super excited about the future going into next year, but we feel like it’s in our best right to finish this year out as strong as we can and hopefully do the Holden brand proud to the end of the year.
“I suppose when you look at it is the last Bathurst for Holden, it’s one you would love to try and get.
“I have been with Holden a small time, but the amount of people in our team and the long the history they’ve had working alongside Holden, you can definitely see there is going to be some emotion come this last part of the year.”
After Holdsworth’s return to full-time driving in 2022, Mostert said the team was “lucky” to be able to secure former Dick Johnson Racing pilot Coulthard as a co-driver.
“Fabian coming out of the main game is very similar to what Lee was last year, they have had plenty of kilometres in these cars and different teams and they bring a lot of values outside of the car as well for advice and trying to better ourselves as well,” Mostert said.
“I guess at the end of last year when Lee got another full-time (drive) we were obviously a little bit gutted but we were very spoiled and lucky that Fabian became available and we were able to secure his services for this year.”
Mostert and Holdsworth blew the field away with their record-breaking speed last year and the two-time Bathurst winner said the team would take confidence from the result going into this year’s race.
“When you look back at it and see how fast the car was ….it was pretty unbelievable,” Mostert said.
“We know we can do it and we have been able to do it more recently than anyone else up there, so we will go up there and we will try to draw off that positivity and see if we can have a similar result up there this year.”
Originally published as Bathurst 1000 2022: Live practice updates, Shane van Gisbergen avoids complete disaster