Pither scores shock pole for Ipswich opener
Chris Pither trumped Prodrive team-mate Chaz Mostert to take a surprise Armor All Pole Award for Race 16 of the Supercars Championship at Queensland Raceway.
The Kiwi usurped the category’s favoured guns by clocking a 1:10.04s best with just 60 seconds of the 15 minute session remaining.
Pither had only qualified in the top half of the field at one event so far this season, entering Ipswich 21st in the championship.
“When my engineer Dilan (Talabani) told me we were on pole I had to pinch myself,” beamed the Kiwi.
“I can’t believe it. The whole team has done an awesome job all weekend, the car has been good the whole time.
“I didn’t know if we’d manage it (a pole) this year but it’s an absolutely amazing feeling.
“Hopefully this is a turning point for us and we can start to chip away at our championship now.”
Mostert will share the front-row with his stablemate after himself vaulting to the top moments earlier.
Triple Eight had appeared set to lock-out the top three places with Jamie Whincup leading Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen with just 80 seconds remaining.
The trio will start third through fifth for the 120km race.
“We feel like we got the most out of what we had, but Prodrive were quick here last year and they trumped us again,” said Whincup.
“We were genuinely P19 yesterday so the crew have done a great job to get us there or thereabouts.”
Fabian Coulthard scored sixth in the lone DJR Team Penske Ford ahead of Mark Winterbottom, Michael Caruso, Tim Slade and Will Davison.
“We’ll take sixth any day after where we’ve been in previous rounds and it’s great to see Kiwi Chris on pole,” smiled Coulthard.
Winterbottom had been second behind Lowndes ahead of the final tyre runs, but failed to improve in the dying stages.
“We detuned it a little bit, it was better in practice and we went the wrong way,” said Winterbottom.
“It’s good for the other boys to lock out the front row but we need to tune ours up.”
All drivers had to battle hot and windy conditions during the session on a warm winter’s day at Ipswich.
Race 16 of the championship will get underway at 1615.
Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Coates Hire Ipswich Super Sprint Race 16 Qualifying
|1||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.0378*S|
|2||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.0889 S||00.0511|
|3||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.1515 S||00.1137|
|4||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.1658 S||00.1280|
|5||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.2152 S||00.1774|
|6||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.2173 S||00.1795|
|7||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.2562 S||00.2184|
|8||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:10.2731 S||00.2353|
|9||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.3019 S||00.2641|
|10||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.3864 S||00.3486|
|11||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.3876 S||00.3498|
|12||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:10.3877 S||00.3499|
|13||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||1:10.3960 S||00.3582|
|14||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||1:10.4206 S||00.3828|
|15||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.4753 S||00.4375|
|16||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:10.4998 S||00.4620|
|17||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:10.5511 S||00.5133|
|18||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||1:10.5687 S||00.5309|
|19||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.6295 S||00.5917|
|20||LD Motorsport||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.6454 S||00.6076|
|21||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.6586 H||00.6208|
|22||LD Motorsport||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.6592 S||00.6214|
|23||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||1:10.7107 S||00.6729|
|24||Preston Hire Racing||Kurt Kostecki||Holden Commodore VF||1:11.1208 H||01.0830|
|25||Erebus Motorsport Hungry Jacks||Craig Baird||Holden Commodore VF||1:11.3995 S||01.3617|