Holden's Jamie Whincup has taken provisional pole position for Sunday’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, edging Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin by the barest of margins in Friday’s official qualifying session.
Whincup had been comfortably quickest in Thursday practice but things were a lot closer in qualifying, setting the scene for what promises to be a hotly contested top 10 shootout late on Saturday afternoon. The shootout will determine the top 10 grid positions for Sunday’s race.
“It’s days like today you realise how good your job is," Whincup said, "full bore in a Supercar around this place, with new tyres… We maximised everything; we used three sets of tyres.
“Fingers crossed, tomorrow afternoon it will be a cooling track, and therefore we get the best conditions going out last.”
Whincup survived a late challenge from Scott McLaughlin, whose best effort fell just one tenth of a second short.
“I tried to treat the lap as a shootout lap,” McLaughlin said. “Any time you get to have a go around here like that, with new tyres, it’s just awesome! I’m still buzzing. I felt like I got everything right on that lap.”
Third fastest for Tim Slade was a continuation of the great form the Freightliner Racing Commodore driver displayed on Thursday. Encouragingly, Slade was only fractionally slower than Whincup and McLaughlin, in a lap he described as ‘messy’.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to improve on that last lap,” Slade said. “It was pretty messy across the top, so that’s promising, knowing that the speed is there. It’s definitely the best car I’ve ever had around here.”
In a very hotly contested qualifying session, the top 10 provisional qualifiers were covered by little more than half a second.
The top 10 was evenly balanced among the manufacturers, with four Holdens, four Fords and one each for Volvo and Nissan represented.
Among the fancied runners who missed out on a top 10 berth were Holden Racing Team star James Courtney (16th) and championship contender Craig Lowndes (21st).
Fastest 10 from Friday qualifying
1 Jamie Whincup (Holden)
2 Scott McLaughlin (Volvo)
3 Tim Slade(Holden)
4 Chaz Mostert (Ford)
5 Fabian Coulthard (Ford)
6 Shane van Gisbergen (Holden)
7 Mark Winterbottom (Ford)
8 Scott Pye (Ford)
9 Garth Tander (Holden)
10 Michael Caruso (Nissan)