HIS first session at Mount Panorama might have included a visit to the gravel trap, but make no mistake about Cameron Waters' intentions - he's here to win this year's Bathurst 1000.
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Waters arrived at Bathurst sitting second in the Supercars championship, but as he trails Shane van Gisbergen by 525 points, he knows making up that deficit over the final three rounds is highly unlikely.
So the 28-year-old says he's not thinking championship. There's only one thing on his mind at Mount Panorama - it's winning the Bathurst 1000 for the first time.
"It's go to Bathurst and win it, I don't think any of us are really thinking championship," the Tickford Racing star said.
"Shane has got a big enough buffer now to not worry about it and he can throw everything at it and I'm pretty sure the rest of the field will be thinking the same way."
Waters was on the hunt for a good lap time during the opening practice session on Thursday morning when he made a mistake which saw him go into the gravel trap near Murray's Corner.
With some 36 minutes of the session left he was carrying too much speed and locked his rears. He was 17th on the timesheet at the time with a best lap of 2:07.9505.
Though he needed a tow to get out and there was plenty of gravel to clean out from under his #6 Monster Engery Mustang, it sustained no major damage and was able to get back out on track.
Waters finished the session in 13th with a best lap time of 2:05.4765
In contrast Red Bull Ampol Racing ace van Gisbergen was on the pace early at the Mount. He sat on top of the time sheet in opening practice before clipped the wall over the top.
Though van Gisbergen pitted after that, the #97 Commodore was still able to get back out on track with co-driver Garth Tander behind the wheel. It finished the session in sixth with a 2:05.3245.
But Waters is not troubled by any of that. He's beaten van Gisbergen already this season and knows he can do it again in the 161-lap enduro epic.
Waters also points out others will be backing themselves too.
"I think we can definitely beat him, he's not unbeatable. I think at Bathurst there's going to be a lot more cars in contention than there were at other tracks," he said.
"It's a long ole race, it throws everything at you, you just have to get to those last couple of stints from home in a good position with a straight car. That's where the race is really starting."
After finishing last season with a second place in the Bathurst 1000 alongside James Moffat - the same man partnering him for this year's enduro - Waters and the team have worked to further improve the #6 Mustang.
He's steered it to three wins and another 10 podium finishes so far this season.
"Last year we identified we weren't quick enough in race trims and we were probably a little bit up and down at the start of the year trying to figure out what that was," he said.
"We've made progress, probably would've liked to have made a little bit more progress, but we're chipping away at it."
Waters is naturally hoping to be near the top of the time sheets at the end of qualifying on Friday afternoon to book himself a spot in the top 10 shootout.
Though Waters has started on pole at Bathurst in the past and been unable to convert it into a win - he was second from pole in the 2020 Great Race and 20th in race one of the Bathurst 500 last year after starting from position one - he knows going from the pointy end of the grid helps.
Waters has made the Bathurst 1000 top 10 shootout every year since 2017, while he is joint leader with Will Davison in the battle for most pole positions this season with eight to his credit.
"It's probably one of the most exciting parts of our calendar to be honest, to be able to get into the shootout is very special. To have that track to yourself for one lap with everyone tuned in is a very cool thing," he said.
"I was pretty lucky to get pole in 2020, we were close again last year but not quite there, but that's the aim, to make the shootout and qualify well. That sets up the day pretty well."
The final qualifying session will start at 4.15pm on Friday with the top 10 shootout to commence at 5.05pm on Saturday.
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