Richie Stanaway and David Reynolds battle for position on Saturday during a practice session of the Supercars Championship round at the The Bend. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP
Richie Stanaway and David Reynolds battle for position on Saturday during a practice session of the Supercars Championship round at the The Bend. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP

The Bend proves a stern test for Supercars' best

THE Bend has already dished out plenty of punishment - and it hasn't even officially hosted a Supercars race yet.

But Supercars series leader Scott McLaughlin said he needed to give himself a "kick up the backside" after the category's newest track in South Australia - an hour's drive from Adelaide - chalked up more high profile scalps on Saturday.

Ford gun McLaughlin could not hide his frustration after finishing 12th in final practice before qualifying for Saturday's opening 120km race at the demanding Tailem Bend track.

Holden's local hope, Nick Percat, topped the final practice time sheets with a lap of one minute, 49.58 seconds, ahead of Ford legend Mark Winterbottom and teammate Chaz Mostert.

McLaughlin's nearest title threat, Shane van Gisbergen, was sixth fastest after setting the pace on Friday.

McLaughlin holds an 89-point championship lead over Holden's van Gisbergen but admitted he looked like a battler at The Bend after being among the category's biggest names to again come to grief in Saturday's 45-minute practice.

A day after Supercars' stars were humbled at their first crack at the new 18-turn, 4.95km track, McLaughlin was again among the victims sliding off the technical course at final practice.

Holden great Craig Lowndes and seven-time series champion Jamie Whincup also had anxious off-road moments to finish seventh and ninth fastest respectively.

McLaughlin said it was time for him to produce at qualifying, with his team garage having spent a long night trying to find the right set-up for his Ford following Friday's drama.

"The car is fine - I just couldn't put it together," McLaughlin said.

"I haven't put a decent lap together all weekend. I need to give myself a kick up the backside.

"The car is not too bad but I am over-driving in some aspects. Hopefully I can lock it down in qualifying."

Qualifying starts at 1.45am AEST.

The maiden The Bend SuperSprint round concludes with Sunday's 200m race.

- AAP