Team 18 experienced a promising day of practice on Friday at the Sandown 500, aimed at fine-tuning their strategy and setup for Sunday’s 161 lap, 500km enduro.
Friday’s track action unfolded across three practice sessions, giving the team ample opportunity to assess track conditions, measure tyre degradation and refine their setup balance ahead of Qualifying on Saturday and the gruelling 500km enduro on Sunday.
During the second practice session, which was exclusively for co-drivers, Michael Caruso and Warren Luff had an extended opportunity to contribute to the development, and took advantage of the end of the session to practice their race starts on the grid to prepare for the potential of taking the start of the race on Sunday.
Practice 3 allowed the team to refine their pit lane procedures, particularly in relation to refuelling and driver changes.
Throughout the day, DEWALT Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and Michael Caruso consistently featured in the top ten positions, securing ninth, seventh, and eighth places in the respective practice sessions.
Meanwhile, Scott Pye and Warren Luff in the Toyota Forklifts Camaro displayed solid improvement throughout the day, securing 16th, 13th, and 11th positions in the practice sessions.
The action continues as Team 18 gears up for another action-packed day at Sandown on Saturday. Practice 4 kicks off at 10:45am, followed by Qualifying at 1:40pm and the thrilling Top 10 Shootout at 5:20pm. Fans can catch all the action live on Fox Sports and Kayo.
Mark Winterbottom/Michael Caruso, #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Practice 1: 9th (1:09.4505)
Practice 2: 7th (1:09.9639)
Practice 3: 8th (1:09.1494)
Scott Pye/Warren Luff, #20 Toyota Forklifts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Practice 1: 16th (1:09.6918)
Practice 2: 13th (1:10.1842)
Practice 3: 11th (1:09.2587)
Scott Pye, #20 Toyota Forklifts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“On the scoreboard today doesn’t look too bad, but it doesn’t quite feel like we’re there yet.
“We’re still working away to try and find a balance and I think what we’re going to notice across this Sunday’s race is tyre wear is going to be a real topic of conversation, it’s a lot harder than we’ve experienced here before.
“The track surface I’m sure has degraded over the last few years and we’re seeing massive tyre degradation. The cars are moving around a lot, but it’s just tricky to find a car balance at the moment, so we’re working around that and hopefully in tomorrow’s final practice, we can find some speed before qualifying.”
“The race is certainly not going to be all won on one lap speed, so we need to look at what the race car is going to do as well.”
Warren Luff, #20 Toyota Forklifts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“It’s been a really productive day for us here today.
“Lots of things to try. A lot of stuff about tyre wear, brakes, some pit stop practice and everything like that.
“We’ll go through a whole bunch of stuff tonight trying to work out what we can do to tune the car up for tomorrow.
“It was a good day on on both sides of the garage. Obviously looking to go a little bit better tomorrow though.”
Michael Caruso, co-driver #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“Good to be in the car here at Sandown. I enjoyed the laps that I’ve got and it was good to be bouncing around in the top ten in all three sessions.
“Mark did a good job and now we’re just fine tuning and trying to find a bit more speed so we can progress up the field.
“I’m looking forward to sitting back and relaxing tomorrow and watch Mark put it in the shootout for us, hopefully, and see what the weekend brings.”
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“The car’s got some strengths, but it’s got some very big weaknesses, so we’ve just got to work out how to obviously keep what it’s doing well and fix what’s not doing well, often you lose strengths when you’re trying to find something.
“We’re fast in some spots, which is great, and I think we’re first in spots and last in spots, so you couldn’t have two opposites, but it’s another crack in the morning with practice before we go into qualifying.
“Caruso’s doing a great job in the same sectors and I think we’re in a good shape. We’ve just got to work on car speed and get set for the race on Sunday.”