Championship protagonists Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup secured pole positions for Races 3 and 4 of the Supercars Championship at the Coates Hire Melbourne 400.
McLaughlin nailed his first pole position of the season in the opening 10-minute qualifying period before Whincup’s second effort secured the fastest time in the following session.
Qualifying for Race 3
McLaughlin only needed a single flying lap in the quick-fire opening 10-minute qualifying session to secure pole position for the initial 25-lap race of Supercars’ first championship round at the Australian Grand Prix.
Chaz Mostert (Tickford Racing) set the first timed qualifying lap of the Albert Park circuit before McLaughlin threw down the gauntlet with a 1:54.6016s effort on his initial flyer to be 0.3297s up on the next best time of team-mate Fabian Coulthard.
The Shell V-Power Racing duo looked to repeat their dominance of the event from last year, locking out the front row of the grid ahead of reigning champion Jamie Whincup (Triple Eight) and Mostert.
“Nice to get that one under our belts,” said McLaughlin.
“The pace shown by the other cars has been fast so to be up there matching them, lap by lap is nice. So we’ve got to turn our car into a nice race car now.”
Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds will start Friday afternoon’s race from the third row ahead of Nick Percat (Brad Jones Racing), Scott Pye (Walkinshaw Andretti United), Cameron Waters (Tickford Racing) and Garth Tander (Garry Rogers Motorsport).
The majority of front runners opted for a single qualifying effort due to the short session and length of the out-lap at the 5.3 kilometre track.
Craig Lowndes (Triple Eight), James Golding (Garry Rogers Motorsport) and Todd Hazelwood (Matt Stone Racing) all had off-track excursions during the running, with the trio ending the session in 17th, 22nd and 26th.
Nissan Motorsport struggled in the session after opting to set their best times later in the running, with Andre Heimgartner the best Altima in 14th. Mark Winterbottom (Tickford Racing) and James Courtney (Walkinshaw Andretti United) also set low-key times in 15th and 20th.
Race 3 starts at 1750 local time/AEDT on Friday.
Qualifying for Race 4
Whincup fired in a 1:54.9974s on his single flying lap to secure pole position for Saturday’s 13-lap Race 4 of the Supercars Championship, to be 0.0882s ahead of McLaughlin.
The Triple Eight racer was the only driver to dip under the 1:55s barrier in the session as he led the Ford trio of McLaughlin, Coulthard and Waters.
“We improved the car from run one to two,” said Whincup.
“Definitely run two was slower, though, than Q1, which is weird, but we did the same time and P1, first pole for the year; happy days.
“(The) Car was good, driver did a good job today as well; bit of a change. I actually got the most out of it, so yeah, P1 for Race 2.”
Percat grabbed his second top 10 result to start fifth ahead of the improving Nissan of Michael Caruso.
Van Gisbergen and Reynolds will again line up side-by-side on the fourth row while Tickford duo Mostert and Winterbottom round out the top 10.
Golding and Lowndes had a run in together towards Turns 9 and 10, with the rookie driver admitting he blocked the veteran’s qualifying run that ended in 26th place.
“Obviously I held Craig up on his quick lap there, I just didn’t see him at all so my mistake, so just try not to do that again,” Golding said.
“But we improved the car so making little steps forward and obviously still learning the track for me, so looking forward to getting into some races.”
Team-mate Tander was waylaid by an engine misfire early in qualifying but made a late effort to finish 24th.
The two 10-minute sessions set the grid for Races 3 and 4 of the championship, with qualifying for Races 5 and 6 set for 1350 local time on Friday.
Results: Armor All Qualifying for Race 3
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:54.6016|
|2||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:54.9313||0:00.3297|
|3||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:54.9782||0:00.3766|
|4||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.3096||0:00.7080|
|5||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.3149||0:00.7133|
|6||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.3205||0:00.7189|
|7||8||Tempur Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.3571||0:00.7555|
|8||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.4792||0:00.8776|
|9||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.5424||0:00.9408|
|10||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.6453||0:01.0437|
|11||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.6571||0:01.0555|
|12||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.9581||0:01.3565|
|13||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.9747||0:01.3731|
|14||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:56.1152||0:01.5136|
|15||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:56.1568||0:01.5552|
|16||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:56.1739||0:01.5723|
|17||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.3194||0:01.7178|
|18||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:56.4009||0:01.7993|
|19||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.4169||0:01.8153|
|20||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.7087||0:02.1071|
|21||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:56.7400||0:02.1384|
|22||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.8673||0:02.2657|
|23||56||Tickford Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:57.0846||0:02.4830|
|24||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:57.5446||0:02.9430|
|25||21||CoolDrive Racing||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:57.7028||0:03.1012|
|26||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||2:10.8889||0:16.2873|
Results: Armor All Qualifying for Race 4
|1||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:54.9974|
|2||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.0856||0:00.0882|
|3||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.3880||0:00.3906|
|4||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.5720||0:00.5746|
|5||8||Tempur Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.5827||0:00.5853|
|6||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:55.5920||0:00.5946|
|7||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.5938||0:00.5964|
|8||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.6296||0:00.6322|
|9||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.6387||0:00.6413|
|10||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:55.8123||0:00.8149|
|11||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:55.8338||0:00.8364|
|12||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:55.9129||0:00.9155|
|13||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:56.0022||0:01.0048|
|14||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.0092||0:01.0118|
|15||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.1056||0:01.1082|
|16||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.2864||0:01.2890|
|17||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:56.2886||0:01.2912|
|18||21||CoolDrive Racing||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.4050||0:01.4076|
|19||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.4381||0:01.4407|
|20||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.5009||0:01.5035|
|21||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:56.7025||0:01.7051|
|22||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:56.7122||0:01.7148|
|23||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.9112||0:01.9138|
|24||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:56.9992||0:02.0018|
|25||56||Tickford Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:57.0642||0:02.0668|
|26||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:57.0812||0:02.0838|