Scott McLaughlin has started his weekend at the OTR The Bend SuperSprint on the right foot, by topping all three phases of qualifying for the opener — including the grid-defining top 15 shootout. He will start alongside Cameron Waters, while lead championship rival Jamie Whincup will start from 14th.
It’s McLaughlin’s 73rd career pole, and his 13th of the 2020 season. Shane van Gisbergen and an impressive Jack Le Brocq will start from row two.
The biggest talking point of the opening phase of qualifying was David Reynolds’ failure to make the top 20. The 2017 Bathurst 1000 champion ended the session in 21st, with a parc ferme breach and subsequent barring from qualifying further damaging his prospects. He will start the weekend opener from last position. Chris Pither, Jack Smith, and Jake Kostecki also missed out on a Q2 berth.
McLaughlin topped Q1 with a 1:15.303 — a hefty three tenths ahead of Chaz Mostert, Anton De Pasquale, Scott Pye, Whincup, Fabian Coulthard, Waters, Andre Heimgartner, Bryce Fullwood, and Todd Hazelwood in 10th.
Q2 revealed McLaughlin again up front, two tenths over Shane van Gisbergen via a 1:15.034. This was despite the arrival of light rain during the hot laps of McLaughlin and others.
Whincup, Mostert, Coulthard, James Courtney, Mark Winterbottom, De Pasquale, Waters, Lee Holdsworth, Heimgartner, Nick Percat, Pye, Fullwood, and Le Brocq rounded out the runners for the top 15 shootout — Rick Kelly, Macauley Jones, Hazelwood, Garry Jacobson, and Alex Davison missing out.
Le Brocq and Fullwood were first on track in Q3, setting times quicker than the laps that they’d thrown down to enter the shootout. Le Brocq’s time, a 1:15.668, was quick enough to be competitive, and was faster than the subsequent laps from Percat, Pye, and Heimgartner. The margins were amazing; the five first runners separated by less than a tenth of a second.
It was mixed fortunes for the two Tickford Racing drivers that followed. While Holdsworth wound up being slowest of the runners so far, Waters finally displaced Le Brocq at the front with a very quick 1:15.275.
Courtney and De Pasquale slotted in behind Le Brocq. Coulthard struggled to do the same, the winner of last weekend’s opening race limping to last in the queue with a car that struggled to make the most of its tyres. Mostert also struggled, a 1:15.789 insuring he would start outside the top 10.
This left Whincup, van Gisbergen, and McLaughlin to try and beat Waters to pole. Whincup was first out but, like Coulthard and Mostert, looked to struggle. He ended up just one spot ahead of Coulthard at the very bottom of the 15.
On four roaded tyres, van Gisbergen had a better go at it — inserting his No. 97 Red Bull Holden Commodore into second place, just over a tenth off Waters. McLaughlin then fired out; quicker than Waters in the opening split only to be slower in the second split. It meant a grandstand final split for McLaughlin to try and edge his Mustang rival. The Kiwi was able to get it done, clocking a 1:15.199 — less than a tenth up on Waters.
Van Gisbergen, Le Brocq, Courtney, and De Pasquale round out the top six.
|3||Shane van Gisbergen||0.210|
|4||Jack Le Brocq||0.396|
|6||Anton De Pasquale||0.432|