Practice makes perfect - or so Craig Lowndes hopes.

The Holden veteran made an impressive start to his quest for a sixth Bathurst 1000 title by topping the timesheets at Thursday's opening practice.

He clocked two minutes, 10.56 seconds ahead of Ford threat Mark Winterbottom (2:10.28) and Andrew Jones' Holden (2:10.36).

Another two practice sessions will be held on Thursday - not that Lowndes really needs them.

Lowndes is more than familiar with the Mount Panorama circuit - this year marks his 20th Great Race.

Remarkably, Lowndes has finished on the Bathurst podium eight times in the past 10 years including four wins.

He is second on the 2013 championship standings, just 96 points behind Holden teammate Jamie Whincup.

Three-time V8 champion Lowndes has his best shot at breaking a 14-year title drought this year.

But Lowndes said winning another Bathurst crown would mean more.

"I have always said Bathurst is it for me - there is no doubt about that," Lowndes told AAP.

"The championship is a huge achievement because you have got the whole year right and that's what it is all about.

"But Bathurst is singularly the biggest race of the year.

"Globally, it is the most recognised. For me, it is all about Bathurst."

Some drivers can feel the heat before the gruelling 161-lap epic.

But Lowndes reckons he has never felt more calm.

"It is the style of racing I enjoy the most," said Lowndes who will mark his 500th Australian touring car/V8 Supercars race start on Sunday.

"It is all about teamwork, strategy, looking after the car, working with the co-driver.

"There are all these elements that you have to get right to make a successful Bathurst.

"For some reason, it is the event in which I am more relaxed and more focused."

One more podium finish for Lowndes will put him equal with legends Peter Brock, Larry Perkins and Jim Richards for the most at Bathurst.

Series leader Whincup (2:10.56) was fifth fastest at practice with leading Ford driver Will Davison (2:10.63) sixth quickest.

Leading driver for Nissan - making their first appearance on the mountain in 21 years - was James Moffat (7th; 2:10.68).

Mercedes - in their first Bathurst start since 1994 - were led by Tim Slade (9th; 2:10.72).

The next practice session - featuring co-drivers only - will be held from 1315 AEDT.

A full-strength field will feature in the final practice from 1535 AEDT.