Jamie Whincup pips McLaughlin to score crucial pole for SuperSprint finale
Race 24 kicking off at 4:15pm
Jamie Whincup has scored pole position for this afternoon's ITM Auckland SuperSprint finale, denying Kiwi Scott McLaughlin a pole on home soil — having led for much of the session. The remaining two Kiwis also made the top 10, including the repaired Falcon of Fabian Coulthard.
The result gives Whincup an edge as he tries to chase down a seventh Supercars title. Times in the session were tight, with just five hundredths separating first and fourth, and nine tenths separating the top 23.
Times began in the 1:03s and 1:04s, before dipping into the twos via a 1:02.9584 from Shane van Gisbergen. The time stood until the five-minute mark after Bottle-O pilot Mark Winterbottom set arguably the first representative time; a 1:02.6732.
Halfway through qualifying Winterbottom still held the top spot, though was now trailed by Fabian Coulthard, Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes, van Gisbergen, and Lee Holdsworth.
McLaughlin finally knocked Winterbottom off with a 1:02.5203 with some nine minutes remaining. Winterbottom tried to hit back almost immediately, but though he shaved some tenths off his time McLaughlin still held firm.
The field (sans James Moffat) came back into the pits for their final changes just a few minutes later; returning to the track in a flurry with four minutes to go.
One car not to come back out was van Gisbergen. Though he was quick early on, subsequent times had bumped him to 11th place. But instead of coming back out straight away his Red Bull team were mending issues with the left rear.
Things weren't much better for stablemate Lowndes, who went wide and off at Castrol after picking up too much air at the first kerb. He luckily avoided causing a red flag.
The team's third driver had no issues; Whincup the first of the guns to fire in the closing phase and jump to the top. He took first with a 1:02.5148; pipping McLaughlin by five hundredths of a second.
Numerous other drivers tried to take a bite out of Whincup's time in the last seconds (including van Gisbergen, having come out of pit lane), but nobody could trump the six-time champ's lap. It's his second pole of the season.
McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, Winterbottom, Cameron Waters, and Tim Slade round out the top six, while Saturday winner van Gisbergen wound up seventh.
Among those to miss out on the top 10 were Garth Tander (11th), Lowndes (12th), both HSV Racing Commodores, and all four Nissan Motorsport entries.
Results (top 10)
|1. Jamie Whincup||1:02.5148|
|2. Scott McLaughlin||+0.0055|
|3. Chaz Mostert||+0.0208|
|4. Mark Winterbottom||+0.0575|
|5. Cameron Waters||+0.1159|
|6. Tim Slade||+0.2231|
|7. Shane van Gisbergen||+0.2619|
|8. Fabian Coulthard||+0.3185|
|9. James Moffat||+0.3460|
|10. David Reynolds||+0.3796|