|Jamie Whincup (L)|
Wilson Security Sandown 500 favorites Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell have gone about their business by climbing to quickest on the opening day of the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
Whincup posted the fastest practice lap of the day in his only on-track session while Dumbrell logged the third fastest time, making them the form pair early in the weekend.
Frenchman Alex Premat, who drove fulltime for Garry Rogers Motorsport last year, surprised with the second quickest time of the day in the Valvoline GRM Volvo he shares with Scott McLaughlin.
Another part-timer Jonathon Webb, also a Championship driver last year, clocked third. He is teaming up with flying Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen this weekend.
Whincup has been quietly clocking up points and extending his Championship lead in the last three events. With 900 points on offer in the next three Pirtek Enduro Cup events, it is a critical time in the Championship.
"It was good to warm the car up," Whincup said at day's end.
"I think it was five or six hours ago we got in it, did a couple of laps and warmed it up and then handed it over to PD. Today was about co-driver running, they pretty much got all the run in to try and set the car up for qualifying and the race."
The practice day was largely that of the co-drivers. Dumbrell has had more seat time than most this year as a regular in the Dunlop Series. Whincup has stated he is the best prepared he has been in the three years they have been together.
Last year's Wilson Security Sandown 500 winners and 2012 Supercheap Auto Bathurst winners are race favorites with TattsBet, which has been reinforced today.
"It's been a good year, it's been good to get some miles not only in testing but in race format as well which has been good," said Dumbrell.
"We have come here, l the whiteboard has been put to zero and we pretty much need to make sure we have a good car for Sunday.
"To be honest it's pretty much me getting more familiarized with the new generation car. It's been good and I'm looking forward to Sunday."
Premat was the fastest co-driver of the day and just .03s away from Whincup's earlier time. McLaughlin took a back stage to the Frenchman with his fastest time coming in ninth.
"It's nice here to be back in Australia, I've been settled in Paris but it's nice to be back in the car with the whole package," said Premat who had not driven the Volvo until a recent test day.
"The car is good. Last year we were good here too so I think we have a good package. The most important thing is that we are fast and we need a bit of reliability for the weekend. I am sure we will do a really good job here."
The HRT pairs of James Courtney/Greg Murphy and Garth Tander/Warren Luff were fifth and six fastest with the primary drivers clocking those time.
The second Volvo of Greg Ritter and Robert Dahlgren was seventh, Ritter set the time, while another co-driver and former full-timer Taz Douglas was eighth and the first of the Nissans.
Lee Holdsworth completed all manufacturers in the top ten with his Erebus Motorsport Mercedes tenth fastest on the day.
A mixed practice session starts the day tomorrow with two qualifying races, one by each driver, tomorrow afternoon.