THE pace of the Supercars Championship-leading Triple Eight Race Engineering #97 entry was on full display at Mount Panorama on Thursday as Garth Tander finished fastest in the day's co-driver session.
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Tander, who once again partners championship frontrunner Shane van Gisbergen for this Sunday's Bathurst 1000, drove a lap of 2:04.1359 on just his fourth flying lap of the practice session.
That time from the Triple Eight Race Engineering garage would remain untouched at the top of the standings for the remainder of the 50 minute session.
Tander, who also made a brief appearance in the day's earlier practice session, said it was challenging getting to grips - literally - with the track conditions.
"I got two laps at the end of practice one and there's been a lot of talk about the epoxy that's on the circuit. The track grip was probably a little inconsistent. Straight away you could tell, in the session just now, that the track was much lot more consistent corner to corner," he said.
"The track was fully dry for the majority of that last session. There was a bit of rain through the middle there, which hurt lap times for a little while but ... that's the fastest I've ever been around this circuit.
"We'll go back out to tomorrow, wait to see if it's raining or not, and then go from there. Clearly the forecast says there's a lot of rain to come our way. Every team will have a different plan and strategy for how they'll go about tuning their car.
"The forecast for Sunday, at race start, that it will stop raining and it will be dry in the afternoon. The bigger question is how the epoxy reacts after the cars run on the racetrack tomorrow in the rain and whether the grip comes back to the same level."
Just a few minutes into the co-driver session Kurt Kostecki had an off-field excursion, finding himself stuck in a sand trap and forcing an early red flag.
It continued a rough day for the team after Jake Kostecki had also found himself in the sand during Thursday's first practice session.
Shortly after the restart Garth Tander produced a 2:04.1359 to not only lower his session-leading time but to also pass the time that Will Davison had produced (2:04.3691) to top the day's earlier session.
That time continued to stand undisturbed at the top of the leaderboard past the halfway point of the session although David Russell was the first driver to get close to it with a 2:04.2379.
The remainder of the co-driver field were at least a full second off Tander's effort at that stage.
Jamie Whincup was the next driver top get himself into the 2:04s with his 2:04.6568 on the 10th lap of his session.
With 15 minutes to go in the session Tickford Racing's Zane Goddard became the fourth driver to go sub-125 seconds when he posted a 2:04.7879.
As the session just passed under the 10 minutes to go mark the red flags came out when Warren Luff got himself stuck in the sand trap at The Chase.
The green flag came out with six minutes remaining.
Whincup marginally improved his time to a 2:04.4477 to remain in third place while Jordan Boys (2:04.6934) and Matt Campbell (2:04.7002) stormed up the standings on their final flying laps to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
In the day's earlier practice session Davison finished at the top of the standings while James Golding (2:04.3851) and Andre Heimgartner (2:04.6504) were the next fastest drivers.
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