The order for this year’s Bathurst 1000 top ten shootout has been set, with Lee Holdsworth clinching provisional pole as rain put a dampening end to an exciting qualifying session.
Holdsworth set his best effort just as the ashen skies began to roll over Mount Panorama, littering the clouds with patches of drizzle.
Behind Holdsworth, Kiwi rivals Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top three. The trio all covered by less than a tenth at the chequered flag.
“We’ve still got the Shootout obviously tomorrow, but this is my first time with a provisional pole at Bathurst,” said an elated Holdsworth.
“I’m just stoked for Truck Assist Racing, Tickford Racing, Sammy [Scaffidi, engineer] has done an awesome job, my little mate Caruse [co-driver Michael Caruso] has been so good to me, I’m just enjoying myself.
“It takes a bit of confidence and sometimes that confidence takes a while to build back up, but it’s certainly there now.”
The forty minute session saw a flurry of action as several drivers made late setup changes from practice and used the best of their fresh tyres to land a spot in the coveted top ten.
However, the best times came following a mid-session red flag.
Qualifying was suspended with a little over 25 minutes on the clock as Jake Kostecki clambered out of a wounded Matt Stone Racing Commodore following heavy contact with the wall at the dipper.
“He was just on a big run and he came in there pretty hot, locked the brake and from there you’re just a passenger,” said team owner Matt Stone.
“Bit of damage, bit of work for the boys tonight, but we’ll endeavour to get it back out for tomorrow.”
Due to the red flag rules, Kostecki will start Sunday’s great race from the last spot on the grid.
Most teams took advantage of the stoppage to make some final adjustments. All but the Red Bull duo of van Gisbergen and Whincup headed back out when the session was resumed.
Initially, McLaughlin leaped to the head of the timesheets with a 2.04.103, just two-hundreths quicker than yesterday’s pace-setter Cam Waters.
But when the Red Bull duo eventually ambled out of the garage for their final laps, it was van Gisbergen who stole the limelight with a sublime middle sector. The Kiwi elevated himself briefly into the lead
As forecasted, scattered rain began to drizzle with under ten minutes remaining. Though it did little to deter Holdsworth who romped to provisional pole with a 2:04.0243s.
A handful of drivers soldiered on into the rain in a bold attempt to find some improvement. But ultimately no one unlocked any more pace, leaving Holdsworth to clinch a memorable provisional pole award.
Waters hung on to the fourth best time, besting Whincup who could only muster fifth.
Fabian Coulthard backed up his impressive speed from Thursday with a sixth-placed finish, locking in a spot in the shootout.
Behind the Kiwi was Anton De Pasquale, Chaz Mostert, James Courtney and Nick Percat.
After a muted day of practice yesterday, Mostert finally demonstrated WAUs true potential, despite concern of low-rev driveability issue in the early parts of the session.
Two surprise omissions were 2017 Bathurst winner David Reynolds and Kelly Racing’s Andre Heimgartner. The pair will start from the sixth and seventh row respectively after missing out on the shootout due to the late rain shower disrupting final proceedings.
There will be two more practice sessions tomorrow, the first of which is reserved for co-drivers and kicks off at 11.10 am.
The shootout will be held in late afternoon with the first car slated to hit the track at 7.05 pm.
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||0:00.0108|
|7||Anton De Pasquale||0:00.4425|
|15||Jack Le Brocq||0:00.8811|