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IndyCar stars struggle in Bathurst baptism

They might have toasted IndyCar success but overseas stars James Hinchcliffe and Alex Rossi admit their first taste of the Bathurst 1000 has felt like "drinking out of a fire hose".

Hinchcliffe and Rossi arrived at Mount Panorama as Great Race dark horses after accepting a Supercars wildcard entry with Holden heavyweight Walkinshaw Andretti United for Sunday's premier enduro.

However, they received a quick reality check.

The high-profile pair found the mountain tough enough under clear skies, finishing at the back of the field in each practice session.

Then the real test came.

The heavens opened for Friday's qualifying, ensuring even more treacherous conditions for the Bathurst rookies.

They finished second last in the 26-strong field - more than six seconds behind provisional pole sitter and series leader Scott McLaughlin of Ford.

It ensures they face the daunting task of starting on Sunday at the back of the grid.

"It's a bit of a baptism of fire for us here," said Hinchcliffe.

"Alex and I were joking earlier it's kind of like drinking out of a fire hose.

"We have very little car knowledge, zero track knowledge and, obviously, this is one of the most daunting, challenging race tracks in the world.

"But man, it's beautiful. All the hype, it's everything everybody said it was and then some."

Hinchcliffe last sat behind the wheel of a Supercar in 2012 on the Gold Coast, while Rossi has never raced in the category, let alone seen the notorious Mount Panorama track.

And alarm bells seemed to be ringing for the IndyCar stars after it emerged Rossi ran off track at Supercars testing last week at Winton, cutting short their three-day session by 24 hours.

Yet the pair were talked up as outside chances of a Bathurst boilover, with Ford star Chaz Mostert backing them to cause an upset in the 161-lap classic.

Certainly, no one can argue with their resumes.

Rossi first came to prominence by claiming the famous Indianapolis 500 in 2016, while Hinchcliffe has such a high IndyCar profile he has earned a spot in US TV's Dancing with the Stars.

However, the pair admitted they felt like rookies after a humbling start at the mountain.

"It was a lot to learn," said Rossi.

"What we keep reminding ourselves is not only is this a new track for us, but it's a car that we're not completely comfortable with either.

"We're trying to figure out all of those things at once, around a place that doesn't have a margin for error.

"We'll just have to keep chipping away at it."