V8 Supercars Championship leader Mark Winterbottom hit back at critics by ending his pole position drought in emphatic fashion ahead of Race 33 at Phillip Island.
Winterbottom’s first pole in 25 races comes as the Ford star attempts to fend off the charging Craig Lowndes and score a maiden championship for himself and Prodrive.
Jamie Whincup led the way for the majority of the qualifying session only for Red Bull team-mate Lowndes to eclipse him with just under a minute remaining.
Winterbottom then immediately displaced his title rival at the top with a 1:30.68s lap that would not be beaten.
Lowndes’ time was 0.2s adrift, while Whincup improved his own benchmark on his last lap but could not lift himself out of third.
Whincup had been forced to abort the first lap on his second green tyre run when he ran wide at Turn 1, upsetting his rhythm.
“It’s awesome to come back, I’ve been copping so much crap from people,” beamed Winterbottom.
“When you have got a quick car you can drive it when you don’t you have to fight your battles. It’s the best grand ($1,000 Armor All Pole Award) I have ever won.”
Scott McLaughlin put in two fast laps on his second run, moving to fifth before jumping ahead of Scott Pye into fourth.
The Nissans of Michael Causo and Rick Kelly were sixth and seventh respectively ahead of David Reynolds, Shane van Gisbergen and Todd Kelly.
Dale Wood managed an impressive 12th after an engine change in his Brad Jones Racing Holden this morning, edging out the second Pepsi Max Ford of Cameron Waters.
It was a tough session for the Holden Racing Team, with Garth Tander 15th and practice pace-setter James Courtney 17th.
Result: V8 Supercars WD-40 Phillip Island Super Sprint Race 33 Qualifying
|1||Pepsi Max Crew||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:30.6764*H|
|2||Red Bull Racing Australia||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||1:30.8857 H||00.2093|
|3||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.0035 H||00.3271|
|4||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||1:31.0092 H||00.3328|
|5||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:31.0912 H||00.4148|
|6||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:31.2539 H||00.5775|
|7||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:31.2590 H||00.5826|
|8||The Bottle-O Racing Team||David Reynolds||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:31.3110 H||00.6346|
|9||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.3193 H||00.6429|
|10||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:31.3604 H||00.6840|
|11||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat||Nissan Altima||1:31.4362 H||00.7598|
|12||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.4916 H||00.8152|
|13||Pepsi Max Crew||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:31.5468 H||00.8704|
|14||Supercheap Auto Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.5470 H||00.8706|
|15||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.5505 H||00.8741|
|16||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Mercedes E63 AMG||1:31.5886 H||00.9122|
|17||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.6471 H||00.9707|
|18||Walkinshaw Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.7313 H||01.0549|
|19||Freightliner Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.7321 H||01.0557|
|20||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||1:31.7364 H||01.0600|
|21||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:31.8757 H||01.1993|
|22||Erebus Motorsport V8||Dean Canto||Mercedes E63 AMG||1:31.9489 H||01.2725|
|23||Wilson Security Racing GRM||David Wall||Volvo S60||1:31.9710 H||01.2946|
|24||Repair Management Aust Racing||Paul Dumbrell||Holden Commodore VF||1:32.0989 H||01.4225|
|25||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||1:32.1407 H||01.4643|