Saturday, Nov 9 02:55pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

McLaughlin tops wet and wild Sandown qualifying, Heimgartner third

It looked like the Red Bull Holden Racing Team had it all sewn up, but in the end, it was Scott McLaughlin who surged to Race 28 pole position.

In what was a bizarre session for the 25-car field, McLaughlin managed to clock a 1:07.7736 at the death to deprive Jamie Whincup of the top spot.

On cue, as the session began, rain began to fall. The majority of the field cycled out of pit lane on slick tyres, all squabbling for track positions to set a lap as early as possible.

Andre Heimgartner set the pace initially with a 1:12.1516 for Kelly Racing. As it turned out, the circuit got quicker and the times tumbled.

As the tyre temperature increased the times lowered too. There were some surprise performers, led by James Golding who bettered the top time with a 1:08.516 for Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Still, the positions changed as the laps continued. A 1:07.915 neared the record pace from practice but the rain got heavier with 13 minutes to go.

Brodie Kostecki went for a trip through the gravel at the penultimate corner, seconds later and Nick Percat followed him in. Both cars made it out the other side and headed for the pit lane.

The field headed in for a fresh set of tyres, but most sat idle in the lane. Rick Kelly was one who dared to venture out, however, he was 17 seconds off the pace.

With five minutes to go, the order stood with Whincup on top ahead of stablemate van Gisbergen. Andre Heimgartner was an impressive third ahead of McLaughlin, Anton de Pasquale, Chaz Mostert, Will Davison, James Golding, David Reynolds and Lee Holdsworth.

Despite the ongoing threat of rain, cars started filing out onto the track. The pace wasn’t lightning initially, but some set personal best sector splits on their first flying laps. By the end of the session, only Jamie Whincup and Jack Le Brocq sat in the pit lane.

Bogged down in last, Rick Kelly was the first to better his benchmark. His lap took him up to 20th initially, but he managed to improve to 17th at the end.

Heimgatner improved his marker to go second quickest ahead of Shane van Gisbergen on his final flying lap, but the times continued to tumble. Having been down in fifth, McLaughlin surged to pole position on his final flyer to edge out Whincup by a tenth of a second.

“I was trying to circulate and was just watching the track dry the first three laps I was out there,” McLaughlin said.

“I was trying to look after the tyre and the boys said everyone else was going faster, so I knew the track grip was semi there. I just had a big go. It was really good.

“I was safe in the places I knew I could spin out, like Turn 4, but once I got it hooked up around the back where it’s a bit drier the thing was good.”

Heimgartner was third ahead of fellow countryman van Gisbergen in fourth. The biggest shock of all was Garry Jacobson, who went off the track on his penultimate lap and bounced back to get fifth place.

“There were five minutes to go and I thought “oh this isn’t going to clear up” but the first sector started to dry and the last sector it stopped raining,” Heimgartner said.

“We decided to go out early, which was actually quite good because when I first went it out it was horrendous, I was sliding all over the place, I couldn’t go down the back straight flat on the throttle.

“The advantage of that was I could see the track develop as the session went on. Towards the end, I knew where I could push and where I could back off.

“It’s good to start P3, hopefully, we don’t have the bad luck we’ve had in the last few rounds. It gives Bryce [Fullwood] the best opportunity for this afternoon.”

Anton de Pasquale (Penrite Racing), Chaz Mostert (Tickford Racing), David Reynolds (Penrite Racing), Will Davison (Tickford Racing) and James Golding (Garry Rogers Motorsport) completed the top 10.

Ford Mustang duo Lee Holdsworth and Fabian Coulthard were only 11th and 12th respectively. Richie Stanaway was 19th in the other Garry Rogers Motorsport seat, but the biggest shock was James Courtney down in 23rd for Walkinshaw Andretti United.


Penrite Oil Sandown 500, Qualifying 


Pos   No.   Driver/Co-driver Laps   Time Diff Int
1 17 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin
France Alexandre Prémat
10 1'07.773    
2 888 Australia Jamie Whincup
Australia Craig Lowndes
5 1'07.915   +0.142   +0.142
3 7 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner
Australia Bryce Fullwood
13 1'07.939 +0.166 +0.023
4 97 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen
Australia Garth Tander
10 1'07.966 +0.192 +0.026
5 3 Australia Garry Jacobson
Australia Dean Fiore
9 1'08.040 +0.267 +0.074
6 99 Australia Anton De Pasquale
Australia Will Brown
8 1'08.160 +0.386 +0.119
7 55 Australia Chaz Mostert
Australia James Moffat
10 1'08.222 +0.448 +0.061
8 9 Australia David Reynolds
Australia Luke Youlden
10 1'08.237 +0.463 +0.014
9 23 Australia Will Davison
Australia Alex Davison
10 1'08.240 +0.466 +0.002
10 34 Australia James Golding
Australia Richard Muscat
8 1'08.242 +0.468 +0.002
11 5 Australia Lee Holdsworth
Australia Thomas Randle
11 1'08.259 +0.485 +0.017
12 12 New Zealand Fabian Coulthard
Australia Tony D'Alberto
10 1'08.274 +0.501 +0.015
13 18 Australia Mark Winterbottom
New Zealand Steven Richards
10 1'08.283 +0.510 +0.009
14 2 Australia Scott Pye
Australia Warren Luff
11 1'08.289 +0.515 +0.005
15 6 Australia Cameron Waters
Australia Michael Caruso
10 1'08.352 +0.578 +0.063
16 35 Australia Todd Hazelwood
Australia Jack Smith
10 1'08.385 +0.612 +0.033
17 15 Australia Rick Kelly
Australia Dale Wood
14 1'08.414 +0.641 +0.029
18 14 Australia Tim Slade
Australia Ash Walsh
9 1'08.432 +0.658 +0.017
19 33 New Zealand Richie Stanaway
New Zealand Chris Pither
10 1'08.578 +0.805 +0.146
20 78 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro
Australia Alex Rullo
12 1'08.617 +0.844 +0.039
21 8 Australia Nick Percat
Australia Tim Blanchard
10 1'08.639 +0.865 +0.021
22 19 Australia Jack Le Brocq
Australia Jonathon Webb
4 1'08.684 +0.910 +0.044
23 22 Australia James Courtney
Australia Jack Perkins
11 1'08.714 +0.940 +0.030
24 56 Australia Brodie Kostecki
Australia Jake Kostecki
8 1'08.840 +1.066 +0.125
25 21 Australia Macauley Jones
Australia Dean Canto
10 1'08.880 +1.107 +0.040