Shane van Gisbergen has claimed pole for this afternoon’s opening race at the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint via a new qualifying-record 50.492 lap; three tenths quicker than anyone else. Cameron Waters will start alongside the Kiwi, with Chaz Mostert and Jamie Whincup on the second row.
The qualifying session marked the first time Supercars had deployed its staggered four-stage qualifying structure, designed to reduce the chances of crashes caused by traffic at the tight Symmons Plains circuit.
There were two initial groups that would each get a session, with the eight quickest drivers from each group progressing to a final session to decide who would contend for pole.
The first group of 12 included several heavy hitters, van Gisbergen, Cameron Waters, Mark Winterbottom, Nick Percat, Will Davison, and Chaz Mostert among them.
Davison was quickest of the group from the initial cycle, having thrown down a 50.893. The time was good enough for the former Bathurst champ to progress, but it wouldn’t top the session. Van Gisbergen ended up topping the session with his last lap via a 50.748, ahead of Waters, Davison, Winterbottom, Mostert, and Jack Le Brocq.
Macauley Jones and Fabian Coulthard were eliminated from the first group, as were the surprise names of Percat and Andre Heimgartner; the latter simply saying that his Ned Ford Mustang wasn’t quick enough.
The second group took to the track five minutes after the other group finished up, the group including the likes of Jamie Whincup, Anton De Pasquale, Scott Pye, and David Reynolds. De Pasquale’s 50.937 was the quickest time of the opening stanza, and that time stood as the session closed.
Pye, Whincup, James Courtney, and Jack Smith were the second group’s top five. Garry Jacobson, Tim Slade, Bryce Fullwood, and Todd Hazelwood were eliminated, the latter having toured through the grass at the end of the back straight.
The 16 drivers that made it through to the penultimate qualifying run had 10 minutes to set their best possible time, with the six eliminated cars making traffic less of an issue.
Van Gisbergen once again showed his pace early, setting a 50.826 during the opening phase to lead Winterbottom, Waters, Davison, and Whincup (and impressive Smith inserting himself into second with five minutes to go). But the order was to change in the final minutes.
As the expected shuffle throughout the grid took place in the last few minutes, van Gisbergen clocked a very fast 50.510, his quickest time of the day thus far.
Pye cycled upwards to second, 0.246-seconds behind. And that’s how the front row remained as the clock ran out of time. Waters grabbed third, alongside a credible performance from Smith in fourth.
David Reynolds, Jake Kostecki, James Courtney, Zane Goddard, Brodie Kostecki, and Jack Le Brocq were eliminated, leaving 10 drivers to take on the clock in the final session.
Van Gisbergen’s first time in the final 10-minute session was a 50.794, which he then trimmed down to a 50.701 on his second lap. He still led at the halfway mark, with Mostert, Waters, Pye, and Will Brown in tow. Curiously, the two Shell V-Power Mustangs didn’t turn a lap in the start of qualifying, instead waiting until the last four minutes.
Not that van Gisbergen was keen to share the limelight with the DJR runners. While they improved up the order on their opening run, van Gisbergen threw down a 50.492 lap for pole; a qualifying lap record and a time nobody could touch. Waters, Mostert, Whincup, and Davison completed the top five, ahead of Pye, De Pasquale, Winterbottom, Brown, and Smith.
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Anton De Pasquale
|Jack Le Brocq