F1 IMPORT CRASHES IN FIRST BATHURST S5000 SESSION

Merhi's damaged car returns to pit lane. Pic: an1images.com

FORMER Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi topped the inaugural S5000 practice session at the Repco Bathurst 1000, despite crashing out.

The 30-year-old Spaniard recorded a best time of 2:04.0345s on the category’s high-anticipated Bathurst debut.

But he blotted his copybook a short time later, damaging the right-side of his #98 entry at McPhillamy Park.

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The crash stopped the session and it was not restarted.

Team 18 Supercars co-driver James Golding ended up second fastest, 0.2469s adrift, ahead of 2021 S5000 series champion Joey Mawson, Aaron Cameron and Blake Purdie.

“It’s the first time we run this car on this circuit and it was a bit tricky to be honest,” Merhi told V8 Sleuth.

“On the last lap I lost it a bit on the entry into corner nine, I maybe turned in too late, before I was taking it easy, this time I was pushing a little bit more and it caught me out.

“The right-side corners are bent, both front and rear but the left-side is fine and the sidepod is fine.

“I feel sorry for the team because I do not want to give them extra work, but we will see if they can put the car together to do a good Practice 2.”

The second S5000 practice session of the day is scheduled for 4:20pm local time.

UPDATE: Merhi’s car has been ruled out of the second session while repairs are ongoing, but will return to the track for qualifying on Wednesday.

Speaking directly after Practice 1, Merhi was confident of super-fast lap times in qualifying.

“The circuit is very nice. I guess we will do 1:59s, that will be our target for the qualifying,” he said.

“I did a 2:04s and was improving three or four tenths already before the crash, and that is with old tyres.

“New tyres on this track will improve a lot. The tyre we have on now is pretty old, we can improve a lot.”

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