McLaughlin takes pole for Townsville opener
Scott McLaughlin has taken an eighth Armor All Pole Position for the season in a qualifying session largely decided during a first run conducted in overcast conditions.
The New Zealander and Jamie Whincup were split by only 0.0553s at the head of the field, while the latter’s Triple Eight Racing Engineering team-mates Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes ended up third and fifth respectively.
McLaughlin was one of a number of drivers to start the session with an out-and-in lap, but when he did attempt a flyer he laid down a 1:12.1239s in the #17 Shell V-Power FGX Falcon.
Whincup crossed the control line moments later but fell just short in the #1 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore.
Van Gisbergen similarly slotted into third in the #97 ZB Commodore, making for a Triple Eight two-three-four at the time.
Lowndes was impressive out of the box with a 1:12.3892s in the #888 Autobarn ZB Commodore which briefly had him more than three tenths clear of the field.
David Reynolds, however, was one of the few who improved during subsequent runs and he broke up the Banyo contingent with a lap which put the #9 Erebus Penrite ZB Commodore fourth-fastest.
Reynolds in fact improved in the final run, but not enough to advance any further.
Whincup went personal best to the first sector late in the 20-minute session but that lap was ultimately no quicker.
There were, in fact, no net positional changes up and down the field in the final run as the sun came out, meaning that McLaughlin picked up an eighth pole of the year ahead of Race 17.
“Fantastic car (but) I made a massive blue in that last run there so luckily no one went faster,” said the championship leader.
“I was a bit worried about rain around here, I reckon it’d be pretty sketchy,” he added regarding forecasts for this afternoon.
“I think everyone at Shell V-Power Racing had their heads down yesterday; we weren’t the quickest car but we knew we could be and we’ve certainly worked on it.
“Thankfully we’ve got the goods.”
Whincup was buoyed by improved one-lap pace for Triple Eight.
“That’s as close as we’ve been in qualifying spec for a long time; we’re all pretty encouraged by that,” said the defending champion.
“Obviously we’d love to be on pole but (we) made some big gains, which is the most important thing.”
Mark Winterbottom achieved a best starting berth in six races by putting the #5 The Bottle-O FGX Falcon sixth on the grid.
The next Tickford Racing entry was Cameron Waters (Monster Energy FGX Falcon) in 13th, ahead of Richie Stanaway (#56 Rabble.Club FGX Falcon) and Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon) in 16th and 17th respectively.
Row 4 will be Tim Slade (#14 Freightliner ZB Commodore) and Will Davison (#230 Milwaukee FGX Falcon).
Fabian Coulthard was ninth-fastest in the #12 DJR Team Penske FGX Falcon) and Rick Kelly (#15 Castrol Altima) the first of the Nissans in 10th.
Of the Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing duo, James Courtney (#25 ZB Commodore) was 14th and Scott Pye (#2 ZB Commodore) 19th.
Race 17 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship (70 laps) starts at 1605 local time/AEST.
Results: Supercars Armor All Qualifying Race 17
|1||17 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.1239*SS|
|2||1 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.1792 SS||00.0553|
|3||97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.2319 SS||00.1080|
|4||9 Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.2795 SS||00.1556|
|5||888 Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.3892 SS||00.2653|
|6||5 The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.4036 SS||00.2797|
|7||14 Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.5121 SS||00.3882|
|8||230 Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.5828 SS||00.4589|
|9||12 Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.5829 SS||00.4590|
|10||15 Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||1:12.6118 SS||00.4879|
|11||8 Dunlop Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.6684 SS||00.5445|
|12||99 Erebus Penrite Racing||Anton de Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.7032 SS||00.5793|
|13||6 Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.7095 SS||00.5856|
|14||25 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.7367 SS||00.6128|
|15||33 Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.7511 SS||00.6272|
|16||56 RABBLE.club Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.7808 SS||00.6569|
|17||55 Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:12.7834 SS||00.6595|
|18||19 Tekno Autosport||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.8893 SS||00.7654|
|19||2 Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.9366 SS||00.8127|
|20||18 Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||1:12.9887 SS||00.8648|
|21||7 Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||1:13.0089 SS||00.8850|
|22||35 Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||1:13.0759 SS||00.9520|
|23||78 Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||1:13.0986 S||00.9747|
|24||34 Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.1605 SS||01.0366|
|25||21 Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||1:13.1925 SS||01.0686|
|26||23 Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||1:13.4843 SS||01.3604|