Team 18 has enjoyed a productive opening day to their Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 campaign, logging over 120 laps over the three hours of practice time at Mount Panorama today.

With thunderstorms predicted later in the week, the first day of action saw clear blue skies and dry running without a single red flag interruption.

Thursday’s running saw three one-hour practice sessions at the 6.213km mountain circuit, including a specific one-hour session for co-drivers.

With recent wet weather in the Central Tablelands region and no racing held at Bathurst since February, the track took a while to grip up before the times tumbled late in the day as both cars dipped into the low 2:05s.

IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom completed the majority of the first practice session, with Golding hopping in for a couple of laps at the end before Practice 2.

Golding, who joined Team 18 for Bathurst following his stint as a full-time driver with Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM), completed 21 laps in the co-drivers session and finished tenth fastest, before Winterbottom set a 2:05.3204 to end the day in 11th.

The team worked through their practice program which included rehearsing driver changes, brake rotor changes and refuelling, with crews only having to change tyres during pit stops since the return to racing this year.

The IRWIN Racing Commodore returns to the track tomorrow for two further practice sessions, before qualifying for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 commences at 4:05pm local time. Friday’s action can be viewed live on Network 10, Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports.

Mark Winterbottom
driver, #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

“We had a good first hit out today, we ended the day 11th in that last run and just on the fringe of the top ten,” said Winterbottom.

“Jimmy did a great job in his co-driver laps today and he’s settled in seamlessly with the team this week.

“We’ll work hard overnight, we’ve got a few things we want to tune up on the car but we’re happy with what we’ve started with today.”

James Golding
driver, #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

“It’s good to get Day 1 out of the way, it’s always a big build-up to this weekend so to have the first day run smoothly and to get a feel for the car was a good start to the week,” said Golding.

“The car was a bit different out there to what I drove last year and having not been in the car since the start of the year it took some time to get up to speed.

“I’m getting more and more comfortable every lap I turn, we’ve been trying things throughout the day to improve the setup of the car and for the race as well

“The track wasn’t too grippy to begin with, it’s starting to get better this afternoon but I think there’s still plenty in it to go, so as the weekend goes on it’s definitely going to grip up and get better.

“We still have plenty of things to tick off before the race, but we’re on the up and looking forward to getting back on track tomorrow.”