Ford Performance Racing (FPR) trio Will Davison, Mark Winterbottom and Paul Dumbrell have ended day one of the Sydney Telstra 500 in the top 10 as the top eight drivers all went under the previous practice lap record.
Overnight rain stayed away as action commenced at the final event of 2011 which also doubles as Dumbrell's last event as a full-time driver.
He took part in the first two practice sessions and was quickly up to speed and was third by the end of a routine opening session.
Dumbrell set a near identical time in the second 30-minute session and finished fifth.
The third session included Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison and the rest of the field, though action was halted early after a lengthy red flag to recover Karl Reindler's stricken car.
When the session resumed Will Davison jumped clear of the field with a near-record lap which he bettered again soon after.
Winterbottom and Dumbrell were not far behind as the session neared its conclusion.
Davison again upped his pace and set a new practice lap record to finish 0.2s ahead of his nearest challenger while Winterbottom claimed fourth and Dumbrell eighth.
The final practice session saw Davison and Winterbottom again fight for top spot.
Winterbottom was fastest at the halfway point and in a busy end to the session the top eight cars beat Davison's earlier record, including Davison and Winterbottom.
Davison ended the day sixth, while Winterbottom was seventh and with neither having a clean lap they were pleased they were so high up given the circumstances.
Dumbrell had a quiet final practice though a late flyer placed him 10th.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Practice 3: 1m28.39s - 4th
Practice 4: 1m27.93s - 7th
"The car is better than it appears. I am not too unhappy as I didn't really maximise my best lap at the end of the session due to reasons unrelated to the outright performance of the car. I think we will have a really strong race which will certainly be better than last year's. Despite our position we are already lapping faster than we did last year so with a bit of tuning I think we should be ok for tomorrow."
Will Davison – #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon
P3: 1m28.03s - 1st
P4: 1m27.91s - 6th
"The car is fast which we showed in the first session though with all the disruptions we only really did a couple of proper laps. I had a few brake issues in the last session which cost me some time as we didn't get out until the final minute so my lap in that session isn't really indicative of the improvements we made from the first session. The car is really quick so to be sixth after such a poor session is pretty good."
Paul Dumbrell – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
P1: 1m29.07s - 3rd
P2: 1m29.09s - 5th
P3: 1m28.69s - 8th
P4: 1m28.14s - 10th
"We didn't have the speed we thought we would have which makes things a little tougher than you need around here. I took of a few mirrors off the car across the sessions which show how close we get to the walls here. No doubt the crew will get it all sorted tonight and we will be somewhere near the front tomorrow."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"It was a busy day on track here but we achieved a lot so things are looking good for tomorrow. Homebush is arguably the toughest track we race on so to come away with three straight cars means we can spend time fine-tuning rather than fixing. All three cars performed well and finished inside the top 10 so we'll work out how we can be better and make some changes ahead of qualifying to see if we can get all three cars in the shootout."