Friday's first two rounds of practice for the V8 Supercars at Surfers Paradise saw times for series regulars tumble into the low 1:12 range, while in the practice session reserved for the international guest drivers, Sebastien Bourdais was the only one to hit that mark.
Bourdais – co-driving with Jamie Whincup in the No. 88 Vodafone Holden Commodore – led the international session at 1:12.4089, a full half second quicker than his time in the morning and six tenths ahead of the rest of the field. Bourdais is the only driver to have won two open-wheel races at the circuit, in 2005 and 2007.
The Triple 8 teammate, Andy Priaulx (with Craig Lowndes) in the sister No. 888 Holden, clocked in second at 1:13.0990. In his V8 debut, Simon Pagenaud (ABOVE) was third for Fujitsu Racing GRM Holden ahead of Helio Castroneves and Oliver Gavin.
"At Queensland Raceway for the test on Wednesday it felt like a bit of a drifting contest and all the guys really slid the cars around a lot trying to get a feel for them," Pagenaud said of his experience thus far.
“I came back off that today and tried to keep the car a lot straighter. I'm very happy to be third fastest today and hopefully my teammate Lee Holdsworth will have a solid practice this afternoon and a good qualifying tomorrow.”
Following from Gavin, sports car regulars Richard Westbrook, Jan Magnussen, Marc Lieb and Joey Hand were next, with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 2 Toll HRT Commodore rounding out the top 10.
“This place is a lot like Long Beach. It is pretty tight, very bumpy and there is a lot of crown in the road,” Hand said. “The guys have let me talk about the car – tell them what I thought – good and bad and I've not had to sugar coat anything.”
The Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy (ABOVE) will be awarded to the winning International driver this weekend.
Saturday marks qualifying at 7:35 p.m. ET with the top-10 shootout to follow, and the first of two races at 11:40 p.m. ET.
Sports car regulars Simon Pagenaud and Joey Hand share their experience from Friday practice on the Gold Coast in the video below.