Scott McLaughlin has comprehensively set a new Supercars benchmark at Barbagallo to take Armor All Pole Position for the first race of the Pirtek Perth SuperNight.
The championship leader and Fabian Coulthard gave the Shell V-Power Racing Team yet another front row lockout in Qualifying for Race 11 of the season as Jamie Whincup salvaged third on the grid having had to start in Part 1 of the session.
McLaughlin and Coulthard started the final stanza with new tyres and, under sunny afternoon skies, duly went to the top of the order with a 52.8529s and 53.0265s respectively.
While they ultimately did not need to, both Cars #17 and #12 were sent out again and McLaughlin managed to find a few more hundredths of a second at he settled at a 52.8141s.
Having set a practice lap record earlier in the day in Practice 2, the 2018 champion all but matched that when he secured safe passage from Part 2 of qualifying before becoming the first and so far only driver to break into the 52s bracket in a Supercar on the newly resurfaced circuit.
“It will be more satisfying when we go out there and get a one-two,” declared McLaughlin.
“We’re very proud here at Shell V-Power Racing just continue pushing on. He’s been pushing me as well, Fabs; we’re a proud team, we stick together and keep pushing on.
“I wanted to try and go faster, we saved a set in the first session so I just wanted to go as fast as I could.
“Managed to go a little bit quicker too, the car was hooked; Ludo (Lacroix, engineer) is an absolute wizard.”
Whincup and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team decided to throw two new sets of tyres at the #88 ZB Commodore to ensure that he got out of the first part of qualifying, but he still had enough to get onto the inside of the second row with a lap 0.3082s slower than McLaughlin’s best.
The seven-time champion only had one run at Part 3 of the session, initially lifting himself to fifth before going faster again just before the chequered flag.
“Not ideal,” said Whincup of the number of new tyres he had to use.
“We’ll still be okay, we’ve still got three sets for tomorrow, so it’s not a disaster. We probably used one more than most other cars.
“The car’s reasonable, we keep making little errors and make it hard for ourselves. Eventually when we could show speed in the end there, P3, best of the rest.”
The Tickford Racing entries of Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang) and Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) follow, the latter of whom also had to go through all three phases of qualifying.
“For me, big improvement coming into this weekend,” said Mostert.
“I know the track’s got a lot more grip, but I was actually worried coming to this weekend with the grip levels.
“We haven’t had a great running on grippy surfaces in the past here at Tickford, so I think we can be happy with a second row start.”
Shane van Gisbergen set a 53.2827s after the chequered flag which put the #97 Triple Eight ZB Commodore sixth on the grid, ahead of Nick Percat (#8 Holden Guaranteed Value ZB Commodore) and David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore).
Percat’s Brad Jones Racing team-mate Tim Slade (#14 Freightliner ZB Commodore), third in the first part of qualifying, will take up the fifth row on the inside of Will Davison (#23 Milwaukee Mustang).
Anton De Pasquale was denied a place in the final phase by Percat’s jump from 12th to fourth near the end of Part 2, and the #99 Erebus ZB Commodore will be 11th on the grid alongside the last of the Mustangs in the #5 The Bottle-O entry of Lee Holdsworth.
The leading two Kelly Racing Nissans are set to share the seventh row with Andre Heimgartner (#7 Plus Fitness Altima) inside of Rick Kelly (#15 Castrol Altima), while their rookie team-mate Garry Jacobson (#3 Rabble.Club Altima) was first on the outside in Part 1 of the session and will therefore start 16th.
Both Mobil 1 Mega ZB Commodores failed to make the cut at the first time of asking as James Courtney qualified 20th in Car #22 and Scott Pye 22nd in Car #2.
They are split by another big name in Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore), the most prolific Barbagallo race winner in the field, while wildcard Tim Blanchard (#77 Petronas ZB Commodore) rounds out the 25-car field.
“Just didn’t get it right then,” said Winterbottom, who has seven wins at the circuit.
“We tried to make the car quicker but we made it slower. Frustrating because I think we could have made the (top) 10 in practice without our errors and then, just the car then, we took a hit and just hasn’t hooked up.
“Not the smoothest run and just not quick enough, so we’ve got a bit of work to do.”
Race 11 of the season, scheduled for 50 laps/120km, starts under lights tonight from 1845 local time/2045 AEST.
Results: Armor All Qualifying for Race 11
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||0:52.8141|
|2||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||0:53.0265||0:00.2124|
|3||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.1223||0:00.3082|
|4||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Mustang GT||0:53.1305||0:00.3164|
|5||6||Monster Energy Racing Team||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||0:53.1894||0:00.3753|
|6||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.2827||0:00.4686|
|7||8||Holden Guaranteed Value||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.3148||0:00.5007|
|8||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.3539||0:00.5398|
|9||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.3678||0:00.5537|
|10||23||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||0:53.4672||0:00.6531|
|11||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.5802||Part 2|
|12||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||0:53.5981||Part 2|
|13||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||0:53.6098||Part 2|
|14||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||0:53.7139||Part 2|
|15||33||Boost Mobile Racing||Richie Stanaway||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.9784||Part 2|
|16||3||RABBLE.club Racing||Garry Jacobson||Nissan Altima||0:53.5650||Part 1|
|17||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||0:53.5742||Part 1|
|18||34||Boost Mobile Racing||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.6117||Part 1|
|19||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.6146||Part 1|
|20||22||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.6222||Part 1|
|21||18||Irwin Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.6697||Part 1|
|22||2||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.7572||Part 1|
|23||21||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.7828||Part 1|
|24||19||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.8549||Part 1|
|25||77||Petronas Motorsport||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||0:53.9869||Part 1|