If you must crash, do so early

The Thursday of Bathurst 2017 was potentially the most action-packed this side of the millennium.

Four cars in total crunched the wall through the day's three hour-long practice sessions; LD Motorsport's Alex Rullo, Garry Rogers Motorsport's Richard Muscat, Freightliner Racing's Tim Slade, and Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. Slade and van Gisbergen's crashes were particularly damaging - both cars having collided with the concrete on the run to The Dipper.‚Äč

While such crashes would be potentially weekend ending had they struck on a Friday or Saturday, both teams have ample time to action repairs.

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Don't underestimate availability

Speaking of Slade, question marks still surround the fitness of his co-driver Ash Walsh. The Australian GT Championship regular recently suffered a large crash while testing a sports car at Sydney Motorsport Park.

In his first day back behind the wheel, the 29-year-old appeared strained, and it's yet to be confirmed whether he will make it onto Sunday's grid.

Enter Andre Heimgartner. Having been skipped over for a Supercars co-driver slot (focusing instead on his Carrera Cup Australia duties this weekend), the young New Zealander has emerged as Walsh's likely replacement. If he makes it onto the grid, he will be the Kiwi number six.

And don't assume it's a two-horse race

Most of the pre-Bathurst hype has been commanded by Shell V-Power Racing and Red Bull Racing Australia. But neither looked like the team to beat today.

Yes, it is only practice, but it's also Bathurst - where early practice serves as a much better indicator of which combinations are the ones to watch.

Scott Mclaughlin and Fabian Coulthard (and their respective co-drivers Alex Premat and Tony D'Alberto) looked strong as predicted, but the Red Bull Holden Racing Team were less convincing. Van Gisbergen's crash cut short his track time and ended a day where car No. 97 couldn't crack the top 10. Jamie Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell also looked out of sorts, though they bounced back to fifth in practice three.

In their absence, Prodrive Racing and Erebus Motorsport were the stars of the day. The former kept their Sandown momentum in motion by topping sessions one (Chaz Mostert) and two (Dean Canto), while the latter topped the final session via a supreme 2:05.0932 lap from former pole sitter David Reynolds.

Expect Triple Eight and Team Penske DJR to improve as the practice sessions roll. But remember that this is Bathurst; anything can happen.