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Whincup rides the bumps at Pukekohe

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016 Ben McKay

It was only practice but it seemed like much more as the series-leading Supercars of Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen duelled at Pukekohe Park.

The Red Bull Holdens took turns to break the practice lap record on Friday, with Whincup ending up with a new benchmark time of 1:02.118.

Van Gisbergen - who leads the series by 148 points over Whincup with two weekends of racing remaining - was fastest in session two, with a then-record time of 1:02.461.

In the white-hot final session, Whincup topped a list of 11 drivers who took the record further south.

Of course, the record lap will carry no advantage over the four 100km races on Saturday and Sunday - and Whincup knows it.

Of more significance was his wild run across the home straight in the second practice session, where he was barely able to contain his Commodore.

Running wide out of the final turn, Whincup's Holden was backwards at one point as he fought to regain control, hitting a sponsor's board and bringing about a red flag.

"I tried to write the car off early ... with more arse than class the thing stepped a little bit right," he said.

"Just for your knowledge, the black is definitely grippier than the green, especially when it's been raining.

"The track is surprisingly quick. We didn't expect to be going this quick.

"You don't take anything out of the (practice) time - but we're both feeling good that the car is there or thereabouts and we'll keep grinding it out."

Van Gisbergen admitted it had been an "intense" week given the spotlight on him before his hometown race, but he would keep the same approach.

"The three of us are working well together and I'm trying to keep the car fast," he said.

"For me it's like every other weekend. The championship's there but my approach is the same; four good races with no mistakes is the goal."

It was an unusually tumultuous day of practice at the regional New Zealand circuit, with five red flags issued.

A poorly packed kerb at turn three claimed a number of victims, with Scott McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, Nick Percat and Will Davison running off due to loose gravel.

Whincup said a solution would need to be found before qualifying began on Saturday morning.

"It's a nice soft sand that you find on the beach," he said.

"They'll have a look at it tonight and do the best they can, maybe we can find something a little more harder packed."

Drivers will contest two 100km races on both Saturday and Sunday, with qualifying in the morning (AEDT) and races in the afternoon.

STATE OF THE SUPERCARS TITLE RACE

* Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) 2812 points

* Jamie Whincup (Holden) 2664pts (148 behind)

* Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2427pts (385 behind)

* Scott McLaughlin (Volvo) 2351pts (461 behind)

Van Gisbergen can seal the title in Auckland if he wins all four races and Whincup finishes outside the top 10 in each race.

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