Thursday, Mar 14 07:13pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Scott McLaughlin does the double in do-or-die qualifying

Scott McLaughlin has scored back-to-back pole position starts for Race 3 and Race 4 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.


The Shell V-Power Racing Team ace set a 1:53.8280 in Qualifying 1 and followed that up with a 1:54.2643 in Qualifying 2 to cement his spot on the front row for the first two races of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400.


The defending champion downplayed his pace after the session. Despite scoring the top two times, McLaughlin said there’s still more to work on.  


“The driver needs a big tune up after that second lap,” he said of his pole time in Qualifying 2.


“I just made a mistake. It wasn’t my best lap my any means but I had a really good first sector and half a good second sector. I was lucky to hold on in the last sector.


“The car is good. It showed, It was awesome, a [one minute] 53.8 that first one was amazing. I’m stoked for everyone for Shell V-Power Racing and Ford Performance.


“I need turn. I’m battling. I’m loose as well though, so I’m a bit of both. I’m just wheeling the thing. The number pops up a 53.8 and I’m fist pumping. It’s a good start.”


There were upsets up and down the order in the two sessions. The short and sharp 10-minute sessions meant that almost everyone completed just one flying lap, which meant mistakes weren’t an option. Some, however, got caught out.


Qualifying 1 saw the two DJR Team Penske cars lead the way with McLaughlin in front of teammate Fabian Coulthard.


Cameron Waters was impressive in the first session to go third ahead of Tickford Racing satellite operation 23Red Racing with Will Davison. Shane van Gisbergen rounded out the top 10, though he couldn’t repeat the same performance in Qualifying 2.


Tim Slade, Jamie Whincup, Nick Percat, James Courtney and Mark Winterbottom completed the top 10. Andre Heimgarter was 15th for Kelly Racing while Richie Stanaway was 18th In the Garry Rogers Motorsport entry.


The biggest loser in Qualifying 1 was Chaz Mostert who was only 22nd after a mistake on his flying lap at the first turn.


Qualifying 2 was a repeat affair for McLaughlin as he went within four tenths of his first flyer. Coulthard couldn’t find his way onto the front row even after having a second crack at a flying lap.


Mostert made good on his earlier mistake and qualified second for Race 4 of the season. Whincup, Waters and Coulthard completed the top five. Will Davison, Penrite Racing duo David Reynolds and Anton de Pasquale, Tim Slade and Mark Winterbottom rounded out the top 10.


Just on the fringe of the top 10 was van Gisbergen who couldn’t come near the front runners. Half a second split he and McLaughlin at the end of the session. The 2016 champion had been battling with a front splitter issue in the sessions prior.


Once again Heimgartner and Stanaway found themselves on the outside of the top 10 in 17th and 20th respectively.


Race 3 and Race 4 of the weekend take place on Friday and Saturday. Before that the field will qualifying for Race 5 and Race 6. That will happen at 3:50pm NZST on Friday.