Rick Kelly shoots to Darwin Armor All pole

Tom Howard

Saturday 17th June, 2017 - 3:02pm

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Rick Kelly celebrates pole position at Hidden Valley Raceway

Nissan Motorsport’s Rick Kelly has claimed pole position for Race 11 at the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown.

Kelly managed to bring an end to DJR Team Penske’s stranglehold on qualifying having taken the last six pole positions.

The Sengled Nissan clocked a 1:05.71s in his first run which proved enough to edge the DJRTP Ford Falcon of Scott McLaughlin.

McLaughlin was among a group of drivers to improve as the 15-minute session reached his climax, but the Kiwi fell just 0.05s shy of Kelly.

The pole position is a rich reward for the Nissan Motorsport squad that has struggled for consistent outright speed so far this season.

“The lap was really okay. I clipped a kerb and thought that I blew it, so to be first is obviously a credit to the guys with the car,” said Kelly, who scored a pole at Hidden Valley Raceway in 2015.

“It’s on rails at the moment, we’ve just got to put our head down now and make sure it’s pretty similar for the race.

“It definitely really suits us with that new surface.

“Obviously a long straight and a couple of areas for us are still a weakness but overall it’s a very strong track for us.

“Like I say, it’s a long race, 42 laps, and we’ve just got to make the tyres stay on it as best we can and see what we can do from there.”

Championship leader Fabian Coulthard will head up the second row, which he will share with the impressive David Reynolds in the #9 Erebus Motorsport Commodore.

Having struggled with the balance of his car, Shane van Gisbergen emerged as the top Triple Eight Commodore in fifth ahead of Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat.

Prodrive’s struggles continued with Chaz Mostert the best of the four car operation in seventh, with Cameron Waters 10th, 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom in a lowly 17th spot and Jason Bright in 20th.

“It’s only genuinely six corners here and we’re six tenths off the pace,” said Winterbottom.

“It’s probably a tenth every corner that’s doing it but motorsport’s frustrating; if you knew the crystal ball thing, you’d fix it, but we’ll look at more data, get more headaches, and try and fix it.”

Brad Jones Racing’s Tim Slade was eighth in front of Friday pacesetter Jamie Whincup who was ninth.

Lee Holdsworth narrowly missed out on the Top 10 as he headed Todd Kelly (Nissan Motorsport), James Moffat (Garry Rogers Motorsport) and Tim Blanchard (Brad Jones Racing).

After showing strong one lap pace in practice, Craig Lowndes remains towards the back of the grid in 19th.

Mobil 1 HSV Racing’s pace issues continued with James Courtney the top runner in 21st while Scott Pye was 23rd.

Jack Le Brocq was the fastest wildcard runner in 24th position.

The Supercars field will return for Race 11 (42 laps) at 1615 local time (1645 AEST).

Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown Race 11 Qualifying

1 Sengled Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 1:05.7114
2 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG/X 1:05.7705 0:00.0591
3 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG/X 1:05.7755 0:00.0641
4 Erebus Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore VF 1:05.8713 0:00.1599
5 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 1:05.9527 0:00.2413
6 Holden Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 1:05.9556 0:00.2442
7 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG/X 1:06.0091 0:00.2977
8 Freightliner Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 1:06.0394 0:00.3280
9 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 1:06.0464 0:00.3350
10 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Falcon FG/X 1:06.0468 0:00.3354
11 Preston Hire Racing Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VF 1:06.0651 0:00.3537
12 carsales Racing Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 1:06.1234 0:00.4120
13 Wilson Security Racing GRM James Moffat Holden Commodore VF 1:06.1354 0:00.4240
14 Team CoolDrive Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VF 1:06.1452 0:00.4338
15 TEKNO Woodstock Racing Will Davison Holden Commodore VF 1:06.1932 0:00.4818
16 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF 1:06.2337 0:00.5223
17 The Bottle-O Racing Team Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG/X 1:06.2825 0:00.5711
18 Wilson Security Racing GRM Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 1:06.2870 0:00.5756
19 TeamVortex Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 1:06.3068 0:00.5954
20 MEGA Racing Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG/X 1:06.3453 0:00.6339
21 Mobil 1 HSV Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 1:06.3523 0:00.6409
22 Nissan Motorsport Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 1:06.4175 0:00.7061
23 Mobil 1 HSV Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore VF 1:06.4281 0:00.7167
24 GoGetta Racing / MWM Jack Le Brocq Nissan Altima 1:06.4875 0:00.7761
25 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 1:06.5093 0:00.7979
26 Drillpro Racing Macauley Jones Holden Commodore VF 1:06.7082 0:00.9968
27 Repair Management Aust Racing Alex Rullo Holden Commodore VF 1:06.8440 0:01.1326
28 Repair Management Aust Racing Cameron McConville Holden Commodore VF 1:06.9881 0:01.2767