Anton De Pasquale has claimed his third Supercars pole position in a row after setting a record-breaking lap-time in the top 10 shootout for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown opener this afternoon.
It’s the first time a driver has had three pole positions in a row since Mark Skaife during the tail end of the Group A era. His time, a 1:05.290, was the quickest time ever set in qualifying at Hidden Valley, edging a record previously held by Scott McLaughlin.
Mark Winterbottom joins De Pasquale on the front row after his own blistering performance. Provisional pole sitter Shane van Gisbergen ended up third, alongside Scott Pye.
Matt Stone Racing’s Zane Goddard was the first driver on track, setting a 1:06.216 bar for the rest of the field to beat (two tenths quicker than the time he set to get into the shootout). Tim Slade immediately beat it, and then Nick Percat threw down a competitive 1:05.630.
It was Percat’s quickest lap of the weekend, and came via the brand new set of tyres he preserved during Q1. Jamie Whincup couldn’t beat the time, after a wide moment in the turn-five hairpin.
Percat wasn’t the only driver with a set of green tyres to play with. Anton De Pasquale had a set, too. And, after a magnificent final sector, he lowered the track’s qualifying lap record with a 1:05.290. This was despite the Shell ace “getting a bit greedy” at turn five, briefly locking his rear tyres in the brake zone.
On used tyres Cameron Waters had nothing for De Pasquale or Percat, slotting below Whincup. Mark Winterbottom didn’t have such issues, throwing down a 1:05.405 to sit second (claiming the quickest middle sector along the way). A wide moment through the dust at turn 11 cost him.
Perhaps in the hopes of landing near his former teammate Waters, Chaz Mostert clocked a 1:05.990 on roaded tyres to sit just above the Monster Tickford Mustang. This left just Scott Pye and van Gisbergen to run.
Pye’s time was quick, but not quick enough to threaten De Pasquale. He ended up third behind Winterbottom and ahead of Percat. And it was a similar story for van Gisbergen. Green sectors in the first and second sectors set the tone for the Kiwi. He would eventually record a 1:05.404 for third place
This left De Pasquale to nab his third pole position in a row with record-breaking pace to boot. Winterbottom’s front row breaks something of a drought for the 40-year-old veteran. The pair will have to defend from van Gisbergen and Pye on the second row come this afternoon’s opening race.
Merlin Darwin Triple Crown Top 10 Shootout, Saturday Race 12
1. Anton De Pasquale
2. Mark Winterbottom
3. Shane van Gisbergen
4. Scott Pye
5. Nick Percat
6. Jamie Whincup
7. Cameron Waters
8. Chaz Mostert
9. Tim Slade
10. Zane Goddard