Mark Winterbottom has kept his wafer-thin championship hopes alive by claiming pole position for today’s opening race of the Winton 300, the penultimate round of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship season.
Fitting, he’ll start right alongside his main championship rival, Jamie Whincup, who merely needs to outscore Winterbottom by seven points to successfully defend his title.
Winterbottom vaulted to the top of the timesheets at the halfway mark of today’s twenty-minute qualifying session, clocking a rapid 1:23.1443 that would ultimately go unchallenged for the remainder of the session, despite most of the field switching to fresh rubber in the final minutes.
Whincup came closest, posting the fastest sector time in the opening third of the lap, before slipping away to end up less than two-tenths off pole position.
The fortunes of Winterbottom and Whincup were in direct contrast to their respective team-mates, Will Davison and Craig Lowndes, who both struggled in qualifying. The pair will start from the eighth row of the grid, with Lowndes ahead of Davison, as they continue to fight for third-placed honours in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Jason Bright finished an impressive third-fastest in his Brad Jones Racing Holden. The former champion – a winner here last year – clocked an impressive final flying lap to earn the third top-three starting position of his season. He starts alongside Shane van Gisbergen on the second row of the grid.
The under-fire James Moffat wound up a smart fifth-fastest as he seeks to remain on next year’s grid. The youngster finished up ahead of Lee Holdsworth, Fabian Coulthard and James Courtney.
The opening 140-kilometre, 47-lap race kicks off at 4:05PM AEDST.
2012 V8 Supercars Winton 300 – Race 1 Qualifying:
|Driver||Entry / Team||Qualifying Time|
|1.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||1:23.1443|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||+ 0.1576|
|3.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.2979|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 0.3062|
|5.||James Moffat||Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 0.3436|
|6.||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 0.4365|
|7.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.4432|
|8.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 0.4520|
|9.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 0.4623|
|10.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||+ 0.4696|
|11.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 0.5080|
|12.||Tony D’Alberto||HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 0.5170|
|13.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 0.5446|
|14.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 0.5475|
|15.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing||+ 0.5672|
|16.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||+ 0.5858|
|17.||Alexandre Prémat||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 0.6422|
|18.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 0.6550|
|19.||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||+ 0.7158|
|20.||Taz Douglas||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 0.7524|
|21.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing||+ 0.8362|
|22.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing||+ 0.8606|
|23.||David Wall||Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.8867|
|24.||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||+ 0.8927|
|25.||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 0.9637|
|26.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||+ 0.9754|
|27.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 0.9943|
|28.||Tim Blanchard||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 1.0730|