There is a real Kiwi flavour to the grid for Race 22 of the Supercars championship as poleman Scott Mclaughlin will share the front row with compatriot Shane Van Gisbergen after a dominant top-10 shootout performance by the defending champion.
Mclaughlin topped both qualifying sessions in the lead up to the shootout and was able to comfortably add another strike to his career pole tally, finishing over two-tenths up on van Gisbergen.
Cam Waters will start alongside Anton de Pasquale on the second row while a loose lap by Jamie Whincup has seen the championship contender end up 7th fastest.
“I’m really proud. That was a hard-fought one for the team,” said McLaughlin.
“We obviously didn’t have the best car last week, but we battled on and found a really good balance today. This is all credit to the guys.
“I’ve got confidence, I can brake deep and know what I’ve got. I’ve got a great car.”
McLaughlin set the early benchmark in the first ten-minute session that preceded the shootout with an electric 1:12.3983s.
Waters who earlier in the day had topped the final practice session marginally missed out on edging out McLaughlin with 0.0039s the splitting difference as the Tickford Mustang slotted into second, ahead of an all-Red Bull 3-4.
The vast majority of the field felt content to stay in pitlane after their sole flying lap as the time ticked down on those in the elimination zone looked to improve on their times.
Andre Heimgartner had fallen into the knock-out zone but manage to wrestle together a last-gasp lap to elevate himself to 13th but in doing so the Kiwi demoted teammate Rick Kelly into the drop zone.
After looking formidable in the day’s earlier practice runs, James Courtney and the Boost Mobile Mobil Mustang struggled in the second qualifying session and wound up 14th, two spots behind Fabian Coulthard who watched his teammate soar to the head of the timesheets for the second successive time.
Celebrating his 100th career round start, Alex Davison was the lead team Sydney car in 18th with Chris Pither suffering a more troubled session and will start 24th.
After the final ten minutes the shootout was set with McLaughlin, Whincup, van Gisbergen, Chaz Mostert, De Pasquale, Waters, Todd Hazelwood, Nick Percat, Jack Le Brocq, and David Reynolds making it through.
Reynolds was the first to set a competitive time but he was quickly usurped by Jack Le Brocq, Percat and Hazelwood who all spent time at the head of the timesheets.
Eventually the trend was halted when Waters set a 1:12.2682 to hold provisional pole. His time was enough to keep De Pasquale and Mostert at bay.
Only the Red Bull duo and McLaughlin were left to try and beat the Monster Energy Mustang, with van Gisbergen doing exactly that as he set a purple lap time despite a hairy moment at Turn 11 to claim provisional pole.
Whincup was next but a horrid lap saw the #88 get loose on multiple occasions and he could do no better than 7th
Thus, it all came down to McLaughlin to try and dethrone Van Gisbergen. Strong sector one and two times set the tone for the rest of the lap as the championship leader surged to a dominant pole, some two-tenths in front of the Red Bull.
Today’s sole 39-lapper will kick off from 5.40 pm NZT.