Andy Priaulx and Craig Lowndes
Andy Priaulx and Craig Lowndes. Photo by Lynne Huntting
ANDY PRIAULX/No.888 Team Vodafone Commodore VE was the fastest International driver Wednesday at Queensland Raceway in Australia. His best time was 1:11.3 seconds around the 1.988 mi/3.2 km road circuit. Priaulx is paired with CRAIG LOWNDES, who looked on beaming, but did not get in the car. Lowndes and MARK SKAIFE recently won the Aussie’s biggest race – the Bathurst 1000 endurance race.

The weather was strange all day – gloomy and cloudy, very rainy, drying, still gloomy, and more rain. Several teams left mid-afternoon with nothing more to gain by further testing. The teams used a mixture of used and new tires. Some of the teams primary drivers also were on track, and the fastest of those was TIM SLADE/No.47 Wilson Security Racing Ford FG. The young driver is paired with HELIO CASTRONEVES, and the two have bonded well with Slade joining Castroneves when he lunched and hung out with his fellow IndyCar drivers.

Castroneves has a way to go to meet his goal of being the fastest IndyCar driver in the race. He was ninth, but that’s not bad for someone who was in a V8 for the very first time.

The fastest IndyCar driver. running second overall, was RYAN BRISCOE/No.22 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore VE. Briscoe, an Aussie, was the fastest International driver who bested the time of his primary driver, WILL DAVISON, who was ninth. But this was only a test, designed to give the ‘Rookies’ a chance to learn the car and how it worked. For many there was a lot to learn: left-hand shifting, in and out driver changes, and dealing with a 600 hp car which goes fast. But as DAVID BRABHAM/No.4 IRWIN Racing Falcon FG told me – “They don’t stop well.”

SCOTT DIXON/No.7 Jack Daniels Racing Commodore VE was the fastest International driver, who had never been in a V8 car. – fourth overall. He is teamed with TODD KELLY.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.19 Dick Johnson Racing Falcon FG also was inside a V8 for the first time. He and Castroneves had a lively lunch discussion with Slade and ALEX TAGLIANI/No.11 Rock Racing Commodore VE – who has raced V8’s before. The visual alone of them describing their various driver changes was a YouTube moment.

For the test, the cars ran with the car transponder, so who actually was driving wasn’t recorded on the monitors, but somehow Timing & Scoring figured it out. For the race, each driver will have a transponder chip in his helmet, wedged in the lining, so it will be known who is driving. There are also two lights on the left lower inside windshield. The top bright green one indicates the Guest Driver, whilst the lower bright orange light indicates the Primary Driver.

An aside here, for the sprint races – with only one driver, the lights are used to indicate when the drivers are running soft tires. These special tires aren’t used at endurance races. The other V8 endurance race is Phillip Island which runs a 500 km race. The reason for the tire indicator lights is that the various tests for sidewall painting has not yet been successful.

Andy Priaulx 1:11.3s
Ryan Briscoe 1:11.9s
Patrick Long 1:12.0s
Scott Dixon 1:12.0s
Yvan Muller 1:12.3
Jacques Villenueve 1.12.4s
Gianni Morbidelli 1:12.4s
David Brabham 1:12.6s
Helio Castroneves 1:12.6s
Alex Tagliani 1:12.7s
Tiago Montiero 1:12.7s
Dario Franchitti 1:12.7s
Sebastien Bourdais 1:12.9s
Mika Salo 1:13.0s
Alain Menu 1:13.1s
Fabrizio Giovanardi 1:13.1s
Will Power 1.13.3s
Scott Pruett 1:15.2s

Tim Slade 1:11.3s
Tony D’Alberto 1:11.6s
Steve Johnson 1:11.8s
Jason Bargwanna 1:11.8s
Steven Richards 1.11.8s
Michael Caruso 1:11.7s
Paul Dumbrell 1.11.9s
Jonathon Webb 1:11.9s
Will Davison 1:12.0s
Greg Murphy 1:12.1
Todd Kelly 1:12.2s
Jason Bright 1:12.2s
Karl Riendler 1:12.2s
Andrew Thompson 1:12.8s
Alex Davison no time
Nathan Pretty no time
Craig Lowndes no time
Dean Fiore no time