Winterbottom won pole position for today's first race at the Winton 300

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 Ford Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing 1:23.1443
2. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing + 0.1576
3. Jason Bright Holden Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing + 0.2979
4. Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing + 0.3062
5. James Moffat Ford Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing + 0.3436
6. Lee Holdsworth Ford Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing + 0.4365
7. Fabian Coulthard Holden Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing + 0.4432
8. James Courtney Holden TOLL / Holden Racing Team + 0.4520
9. Rick Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing + 0.4623
10. David Reynolds Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash + 0.4696
11. Garth Tander Holden TOLL / Holden Racing Team + 0.5080
12. Tony D’Alberto Ford HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing + 0.5170
13. Steve Owen Ford VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing + 0.5446
14. Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport + 0.5475
15. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing + 0.5672
16. Will Davison Ford Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing + 0.5858
17. Alexandre Prémat Holden Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport + 0.6422
18. Tim Slade Ford Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing + 0.6550
19. Jonathon Webb Holden Tekno Autosports + 0.7158
20. Taz Douglas Holden Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport + 0.7524
21. Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing + 0.8362
22. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing + 0.8606
23. David Wall Holden Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing + 0.8867
24. Michael Patrizi Holden Tekno Autosports + 0.8927
25. Dean Fiore Ford Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing + 0.9637
26. Greg Murphy Holden Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing + 0.9754
27. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing + 0.9943
28. Tim Blanchard Holden Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing + 1.0730

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Richard Bailey

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