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PRODRIVE RACING – NEWCASTLE FRIDAY WRAP

Friday featured stunning views and an exciting race track on the first day of practice for the inaugural Newcastle 500, but the results were not as pleasant for Prodrive Racing (Australia). The PRA quartet struggled on the opening day of on-track activities, with only Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FG X) in the top ten in the first 40-minute session, while Cameron Waters’ (#6 Monster Energy FG X) 13th in Practice 2 was the best the team could muster in the later afternoon session.

Veterans Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FG X) and Jason Bright (#56 MEGA Fuels FG X) both placed further down the order than they would have liked on Friday, but both believe there is more pace in each of their Fords, and even more to be gained with overnight adjustments.

The four-car team hopes to turn things around on Saturday, where a 20-minute group qualifying session will set the field for Race 25, the inaugural Supercars race on the streets of Newcastle.

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DRIVERS’ VIEW
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
Mark Winterbottom
Practice 1: 16th, 1m11.35s
Practice 2: 16
th, 1m10.50s
“We were actually going okay. We weren’t running new tyres like most of the other guys, so we were trucking along pretty well. We put on new tyres towards the end, and got slowed by some other cars that went down the escape roads, so we didn’t get the ultimate lap. The balance of the car was still not 100% where I want it, but I think we would have been at the back end of the top ten if I had gotten the lap I wanted. The gap from second to tenth is pretty tight, so if we’re in there we’ll be all right. Still have some work to do, but I think we’re a lot better than where we look. Cool track, bloody tough, and massive turnout. It’s exciting to come to a new place and get this kind of reception.”

#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
Cameron Waters
Practice 1: 21
st, 1m11.64s
Practice 2: 13
th, 1m10.37s
“We dealt with some mechanical issues in the first session – which isn’t very good to have when you’re at a new track – but we got that fixed, and we made some ground in the second session. We still have a bit of work to do, so we’ll go over the data and see what we need to get up front. Qualifying’s going to be really important tomorrow, pretty much everyone thinks it’s going to be tough to pass here, so we’ll give it the best we can.”
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#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
Chaz Mostert
Practice 1: 8
th, 1m11.13s
Practice 2: 19
th, 1m10.77s
“I think we’re close to where we need to be, but I never put a proper lap together in the afternoon. Practice 1 went all right for us, but I made a mistake on my fast lap and missed the hairpin. I was P1 through the first two sectors on that lap so we would have been much higher up otherwise. We think we know what we need to get the car up front, so we’ll work on it overnight and go for it in quali tomorrow.”

-EV14-17-3968_preview.jpeg#56 MEGA Fuels PRA Ford
Jason Bright
Practice 1: 23
rd: 1m11.79s
Practice 2: 23
rd, 1m10.97s
“I feel like we’ve got some work to do tonight. I didn’t get a good run in at the end there, so the time we had was from earlier in the session. I think we were capable of moving up the field, but we’re not quite where we need to be. We still need to make the cars a bit better, I feel like there’s plenty of room for improvement. It would have looked better had I gotten a good lap in at the end, but we’ll come back better on Saturday.”

Tim Edwards – Team Principal
“We definitely wish we could have started off the first Newcastle 500 with a better first day. There were a number of things that didn’t go our way today, whether it was traffic on track or little problems like what Cam had in the early session. Fortunately Friday’s don’t pay points, so we’ll make some changes and come back strong tomorrow. Everyone seems optimistic that they know what they need to do, so I’m confident we’ll be back near the top in no time.”

DUNLOP SUPER2 SERIES
Both Dunlop Super2 drivers trimmed over a second off their lap times between their two practice sessions on Friday, but like their main game counterparts, found themselves mixed in the mid-pack at the end of the day. Defending Super2 champion Garry Jacobson (#1 MEGA Fuels FG X) just missed out on the top ten in the second session, placing 11th at 1m12.15s, which Josh Kean (#5 Wynn’s Racing PRA Ford) placed 12th in Practice 1 and 14th in Practice 2. Similar the main game drivers, Super 2 qualifies on Saturday morning, followed by a 20-lap sprint race in the afternoon.