IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and DEWALT Racing’s Scott Pye had two solid hit-outs at Townsville today, with two practice sessions completed ahead of this weekend’s NTI Townsville 500.

The Team 18 drivers shared positions 14th and 15th in both sessions, with Winterbottom heading Pye by just one-hundredth of a second in Practice 1, and then Pye leading Winterbottom by only four-hundredths of a second in Practice 2, with a tight qualifying session anticipated tomorrow.

In the first session, the team suited up to rehearse a full pit stop including refuelling, which has been brought back for the first time since the Mount Panorama 500 in February.

Winterbottom ended the day encouraged by the race pace of the IRWIN Commodore, with the race setup adjusted to account for the heavier fuel load and tyre conservation over a stint. However, the four-time Townsville race winner is looking for more pace from their single-lap qualifying efforts.

Pye similarly found solid progress during the race runs, with a strong bank of data gathered for the team to analyse before tomorrow morning’s qualifying session.

Team 18 will return to the Reid Park Street Circuit tomorrow for a 15-minute qualifying session at 11:15am, with the ten fastest drivers progressing to the Top Ten Shootout at 1:05pm, before the Race 15 of the Repco Supercars Championship at 3:45pm, to be held over 250 kilometres.

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Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore

Practice 1: 14th (1:13.5227)
Practice 2: 15th (1:12.9809)

“The car wasn’t where I wanted it to be in the first session, but the second session was pretty good.

“I had a bit of traffic on my fast lap which cost me a bit of time but the back-end of the top ten is probably where we are at the moment.”