Mustang on top, frustration for Red Bull
FABIAN Coulthard set up the Mustang for another weekend of dominance when he and teammate Scott McLaughlin shaded their Holden rivals in practice on Friday at Phillip Island.
After Shane van Gisbergen broke the Mustang's stranglehold to give Holden its first win of the season in Tasmania last weekend, the Fords were back on top with the Mustang setting four of the top five fastest times for the day's final session
Tickford Racing's Cameron Waters finished behind the DJR Team Penske pair of Coulthard and McLaughlin, with Nissan's Rick Kelly and Ford's Will Davison rounding out the top five.
After their win last week, it was a frustrating session for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team with van Gisbergen just scraping into the top 10 and Jamie Whincup missing out in 11th.
The top 10 drivers from Friday's final practice session get a free pass through to Q2 in Saturday's three-part qualifying format.
Despite having the two fastest cars, Coulthard said there was still plenty of work for DJR Team Penske.
"It's good that we've got two fast cars, that's the main thing,'' Coulthard said.
"It's hard to know where you're really at when the Triple Eight Holden's not there.
"We'll just have to go through everything tonight and see if we can make it better ... it's just one of those tracks where if you find a little bit, you find a lot.
"I'm not 100 per cent happy, I don't think you ever are 100 per cent happy so we can make it better."
The Mustangs have won seven of the opening eight races of the Supercars season and are widely expected to continue their strong form at Phillip Island this weekend.
McLaughlin, a back-to-back winner at the track last year, will be aiming for his seventh straight pole position - and ninth in total - at the track on Saturday.
The New Zealand star's unbeaten qualifying run stretches back to 2016 when he was racing a Volvo at Garry Rogers Motorsport.
McLaughlin holds a 124-point lead in the championship over Coulthard heading into this round.
Whincup admitted Triple Eight had to "pull its finger out" if it was to stop the Mustangs this weekend.
"(I'm) disappointed, we wanted to be in the 10 and we pushed pretty hard,'' Whincup said.
"My teammate just knocked me out at the end there. That's the way it goes, we'll keep fighting on.
"We've got (Triple Eight customer) Todd Hazelwood up there (eighth) in my car from last year so those guys are doing a better job than we are at the moment, so we've got to pull out finger out.
"We are just looking for grip all-around. We have got some work to do. But it's all good."
Earlier, Erebus Motorsport's Anton De Pasquale put Holden on top in the opening practice session ahead of Davison and Kelly.
De Pasquale, entering his second season in Supercars, said there was still plenty of work to do to improve the handling of the Commodore around the track.
"It's definitely feels a bit more of a handful than it was last year, but it looks like everyone is in a very similar boat,'' De Pasquale said.
"We know where our package is obviously a lot of work to do still, early days, we will find out more this afternoon where we are at."
Jamie Whincup was back in 23rd place after the opening practice session, but said there was "no cause for concern" just yet.
"The car is similar to how it was at the test day here and not 100 per cent,'' Whincup said.
"The car's not sited to Phillip Island at all, but we will work it out."
The second practice session will be held this afternoon, with the top 10 drivers getting a free pass to Q2 in the three-part qualifying.