Whincup sets early Bathurst pace

LAST year's winner Jamie Whincup got his Bathurst defence off to a flying start yesterday despite red flags hampering the final practice session of day one at Mt Panorama.

The Red Bull Racing Australia driver (pictured) and championship leader recorded the fastest time, a 2m08.3240s effort, 0.7293 seconds ahead of closest rival Mark Winterbottom.

Some 26 minutes into the session Alex Davison went into the wall at the top of the mountain.

Shortly afterwards Jason Bright set the fastest time, but he suffered a mechanical failure, stopping on Conrod Straight.

Todd Kelly was also stopped at turn 10 in an unrelated incident.

The practice session was extended by 15 minutes, and in that time Whincup

became the first driver in the '08s' range. The fastest time (2m10.1021s) prior to the last session came from Whincup's teammate, Craig Lowndes.

Pepsi Max Crew FPR Ford's Steven Richards topped the second practice session, reserved for the co-drivers, in 2m10.5231s.

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