Anton De Pasquale has claimed his fourth pole position of the 2021 Supercars season, topping an exciting shootout ahead of the opening race of the WD-40 Townsville Top 10 Shootout. He leads a Ford Mustang 1-2-3, with Cameron Waters and Will Davison qualifying second and third.
The result breaks Red Bull Ampol Racing’s stranglehold streak on pole positions at the venue. Drivers Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen will start fourth and sixth, van Gisbergen’s run having been stunted by communication dramas following a crash for the car that came out before him; Zane Goddard.
The first driver to attack the clock was James Courtney; only two Tickford Racing-prepared Ford Mustangs having made it into the 10. His 1:13.652 on four used tyres was unlikely to vault him far up the order, being four tenths behind the time he set to get into the shootout.
The 2010 series champ’s time was subsequently pipped by Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat, the latter having bolted on two green front tyres. Goddard looked on to join the two BJR drivers ahead of Courtney, only for the Yellowcover driver to lose control and crash at the final corner.
It hadn’t been the cleanest lap, with Goddard having locked his rear tyres briefly in the turn two braking zone, then followed this up with a ‘purple’ sector two. Heading into the final corner, Goddard reported that he missed his brake pedal with the foot. The car skipped wide under brakes, first putting two wheels in the grass and then the entire thing. He clouted the tyre wall at pace with his rear quarter, but thankfully didn’t incur much damage.
Van Gisbergen was next. His messy lap (running wide at turn two, then hesitating at the final corner) still saw him edge Percat for the top spot. Van Gisbergen wasn’t happy, though. He had received mixed messages about whether he was good to commence his lap, given the crash that had happened prior.
Quizzed about his lap over the radio, the Kiwi said it was “pretty shit”, stating that the pre-lap processing was “pretty confusing and not very good”. Speaking after qualifying, team principal Roland Dane laid blame on race control.
Van Gisbergen had fielded mixed messages, first being told he would be coming into the pits to give officials time to retrive Goddard’s crashed car, then being told to go ahead with his lap when Goddard managed to drive the car into pit-lane under its own steam.
Unsurprisingly, his time was immediately usurped by a clean 1:13.350 from Whincup. Still, it wasn’t the Hollywood time some would have hoped from the Red Bull pairing given their dominance the previous weekend. And this was immediately proven by Waters’ sharp following lap; a 1:12.806, more than two tenths quicker than Whincup’s time and the fastest lap of the weekend up to that point.
Last out were the two Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustangs. Will Davison came very close to edging Waters; only three one hundredths off the pace (dipping two wheels onto the grass coming out of the last corner).
It was a different story for De Pasquale. The qualifying dynamo was back in form; producing a hard-to-fault lap punctuated by the way his car rode the bumps at the back end of the circuit. His subsequent 1:12.639 trimmed a tenth and a half from Waters’ best, and ensured a Ford Mustang 1-2-3 for the opening Townsville shootout.
“That was really cool. It’s really tight. They’re going to make us work for it this arvo,” said De Pasquale. The Shell pilot added that the result was something of a surprise. “I thought I threw it away a little earlier because I hit the fence at the start of quali.”
1. Anton De Pasquale
2. Cameron Waters
3. Will Davison
4. Jamie Whincup
5. Chaz Mostert
6. Shane van Gisbergen
7. Nick Percat
8. Todd Hazelwood
9. James Courtney
10. Zane Goddard