Cameron Waters of the Monster Energy Ford team.
Cameron Waters of the Monster Energy Ford team. DARREN ENGLAND

Waters pips Whincup in Auckland practice

CAMERON Waters upstaged the Supercars title contenders to go fastest at the end of Friday practice for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

The Sandown 500 co-winner pipped points leader Jamie Whincup by 0.141 of a second, putting a difficult opening session behind him where the No.6 Monster Energy Ford could only manage 24th fastest.

"We had a few problems but we knew it was all just a matter of tuning it up; we did that and the car's mint now," Waters said.

"Probably a bit how I was attacking it, but the car wasn't allowing how I wanted to drive it either. We put two and two together and the car's really quick now."

Whincup was the sole Holden in what was otherwise an all-Ford top five, the six-time champion heading Mark Winterbottom and title rivals Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert.

"It's a bit of a Ford whitewash at the top - it's good to be up there to represent the mighty lion!" Whincup joked.

"The (Turn 1) bump's definitely gone, but my car's its worst through Turn 1. That's the big area we're going to look at tonight."

Winterbottom was baulked on his first two attempts at a flying lap but his third effort was good enough for third fastest.

This weekend marks 12 months since the 2015 series champion's last race win, but Winterbottom feels the No.1 Bottle-O Ford is quick enough to break that drought.

"I'm pretty confident for tomorrow - if it doesn't rain, which it probably will now!" he joked.

The weather will be the major talking point for Saturday. Rain is forecast throughout the day, which is expected to cause havoc with the newly-resurfaced parts of the circuit.

Shane van Gisbergen was sixth after sitting out most of the morning's opening session, looking much happier with his car in the afternoon but almost three tenths off the pace.

Tim Slade, David Reynolds, Craig Lowndes and Lee Holdsworth rounded out the top 10, the latter continuing an impressive run of form since the Gold Coast for the Preston Hire Racing team.

Four of the title contenders cracked the top 10 on Friday afternoon. The fifth, Fabian Coulthard, ended the day down in 14th, half a second off Waters' pace.

The cars will next hit the track on Saturday with a 20-minute qualifying preceding the first 70-lap race of the weekend - the longest race the series has done at Pukekohe in its time as a championship venue.