The fourth and final Friday V8 practice session at Surfer’s Paradise was open to all 56 drivers, regular and Internationals. However, only two Guest drivers were on track for a brief while, and no on the T&S charts at the end of the session – MARINO FRANCHITTI/No.30 Gulf Western Oil Racing Holden and VITANTONIO LIUZZI/No.3 .
Wilson Security Ford.
The fastest Armor All 600 driver was JAMIE WHINCUP/No.88 TeamVodafone Holden, who partnered with SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS of France – the fastest International driver in both of their sessions.
Second overall was the sister Vodafone Holden, CRAIG LOWNDES/No.888, driving with ANDY PRIAULX.
Third overall in the last session was WILL DAVISON/No.6 Trading Post FPR Falcon, co-driving with MIKA SALO of Finland.
The unfortunate media conference with these three drivers was in the Pit Lane Interview Room, with no lights and the very loud Porsche Carrera Cup cars on track outside. One spotlight was later turned on, for an eerie effect.
It wasn’t easy to hear the interviews, much less take photos.
The main gist from all six drivers was unhappiness with the Bollards around the course, especially in the chicane on the beach straight. These flexible pylon-type standards are set up in places the drivers aren’t supposed to go, to prevent short-cutting the course. Each bollard has a built-in sensor, which alerts Timing & Scoring when it has been hit, which in turn deletes that lap.
Last year there were movable stacks of tires, and they did just that – moved when hit.
Whincup said he went faster than shown on the results sheets, but those times were all disallowed.
Priaulx said he “couldn’t get his head around the Bollard rule.”
Salo said “It’s a challenge on soft tires going into the chicane. The Bollards make no sense any kind, any way. There must be a better way to do it.”
Bourdais said he hit four Bollards in two sessions. He didn’t always feel it touching, but he got warned anyhow. “That is a problem with the Bollards,” Bourdais said. “They also break when hit, so this means a lost reference point next time around the track, especially in Turn Two. Just going near them can set them off. “I’m the least affected by it. I drove differently, leaving more margin. Bourdais used the timing line but that still triggered the sensor.
Lowndes said he just wants consistency. “We just can’t race the cars in the current situation.”
Although Bourdais is a Guest/International driver, he’s not unfamiliar with the street circuit. He raced on it five times in CART/Champ Car, and in last year’s inaugural V8 International race.
Bourdais is the fastest, by far, of any of the International drivers, in eighth place overall out of the 56 drivers.
The next fastest International driver was Priaulx, who was twenty-fourth overall.
Saturday is V8 Qualifying, the Top Ten Shootout, and the first of two races, for 102 laps/300 km…or one lap past 4:20pm local time.