Shane van Gisergen has continued his Supercars heroics by sweeping qualifying for today’s two races in treacherous wet conditions. It puts the Kiwi in good stead to continue his incredible victory streak in the series. In both cases, van Gisbergen’s nearest rival was teammate Jamie Whincup.
The dual 10-minute qualifying sessions were punctuated by a set of morning showers that had glossed the Sandown surface. It prompted plenty of speculation over whether the dry or wet tyre would be more optimal, particularly considering the short turn arounds.
Qualifying 2 for the weekend kicked off in grey conditions. No rain, but the track was still damp with patches of standing water here and there. Everyone started the session on wet rubber, the two Team Sydney cars almost clobbering into each other at turn two on the opening out-lap.
The first driver to come unstuck in the conditions was Jake Kostecki; beaching his Unit Commodore at turn one and prompting a red flag. The incident was more to do with a hanging throttle pedal than the weather. This occurred before anyone had actually completed a lap in full, meaning an all-in six minute shootout was to come.
Factoring the time taken completing each out-lap, it was really more of a five-minute sprint. Jamie Whincup was the first to throwdown a proper representative time, via a 1:18.566. By the end of the first cycle of laps clocked van Gisbergen was second, over Chaz Mostert and Anton de Pasquale.
Van Gisbergen leaped to the front with his follow-up lap, a 1:18.327. Cameron Waters also improved on the same lap, jumping to third with two minutes to go. Van Gisbergen’s hopes of a third consecutive lap were dashed by a half-spin at turn three. The Saturday race winner was lucky to be able to press on without causing a red flag and losing his best time.
He was able to retain that top spot as the clock hit zero and the last of the laps were processed, conditions worsening in the dying moments. Van Gisbergen ended up over two tenths ahead of Whincup in second, with Mostert, Waters, and Andre Heimgartner rounding out the top five.
James Courtney, Will Davison, de Pasquale, David Reynolds, and Nick Percat completed the race four top 10. Mark Winterbottom was unable to match his Saturday heroics, qualifying 11th.
Things were even more wet for the second qualifying session. With six minutes to go, the order was Heimgartner, Fabian Coulthard, Scott Pye, Todd Hazelwood, and Mostert. But things were changing all the time, as the rains eased and the track began to warm. A minute later is had all changed again, van Gisbergen back in front over Heimgartner, Davison, Whincup, and Reynolds.
Still unanimously using wet tyres, van Gisbergen trimmed another two tenths off his best time to further the margin to second, Whincup improving at the same time to hit second. With a minute to go, it was hard to imagine anyone dethroning either Red Bull car.
And so it came to pass, neither Triple Eight entry was pipped in the final minutes. Davison was the next-best runner in third, over Reynolds, Heimgartner, Winterbottom, Brodie Kostecki, de Pasquale, Mostert, and Waters all the way down in 10th position. Coulthard’s performance in the second session was also notable, the Team Sydney driver ending up 12th.