Scott McLaughlin has ended the V8 Supercars Championship season jointly tied with Jamie Whincup in qualifying honours after claiming his tenth pole position of the year for the final race of the season.
The Volvo driver emerged on top in a thrilling one-lap Top-10 Shootout for pole position, edging out Garth Tander by three-hundredths of a second around the tight confines of the Sydney Olympic Park street circuit.
Having qualified seventh-quickest in the preliminary qualifying session, McLaughlin was the fourth man to post a time in the Shootout, clocking a 1:28.314 to beat provisional pole-sitter James Courtney. His effort was all the more impressive given a brief sprinkle of rain had fallen before his lap got underway.
The track remained dry for the rest of the session, but each of the following runners fell short; Tander came closest, grazing the wall with his HRT Holden on his flying lap.
Shane van Gisbergen, the fastest driver in the earlier provisional session, starts third-fastest, ahead of Courtney, Mark Winterbottom, Rick Kelly, Scott Pye and Chaz Mostert. Jamie Whincup and David Reynolds share the fifth row of the grid, with both drivers having their times disqualified after triggering the kerb sensor at Turn 3.
Van Gisbergen was impressive in the opening session, clocking a 1:27.905 time midway through the session on scrubbed tyres, which no one was able to better in the final minutes when the entire field – van Gisbergen included – bolted on brand new Dunlop rubber.
The final seconds proved decisive in sorting out the Top-10 Shootout contenders. Tander slotted into second-fastest ahead of Whincup, Reynolds, Winterbottom and Pye, who makes a one-lap session for the first time in his career in his swansong outing for Dick Johnson Racing.
The opening session saw a number of notable drivers fail to make the top-ten cut, including the BJR Holdens of Fabian Coulthard (11th) and Jason Bright (12th), while Craig Lowndes’ disastrous weekend continued with just the 18th-fastest time.
Race 36 pole-winner Will Davison also had a session to forget, lopping his Erebus AMG into a wild spin as he exited the final corner; he starts in 17th place, two spots behind Robert Dahlgren, who ended his V8 Supercars sojourn with the 15th-fastest time in one of his best qualifying performances.
Series returnee Marcos Ambrose’s inauspicious comeback continued, qualifying his XBOX DJF Ford 23rd-fastest.
2014 V8 Supercars Sydney NRMA 500 – Race 38 Qualifying:
|‘Top 10 Shootout’||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||1:28.314|
|2.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 0.032|
|3.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||+ 0.208|
|4.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 0.250|
|5.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 0.448|
|6.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 0.619|
|7.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 0.783|
|8.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 0.853|
|9.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||no time|
|10.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||no time|
|Q1 Qualifiers||Team / Entry||Result|
|11.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||1:28.741|
|12.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||1:28.817|
|13.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||1:28.842|
|14.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||1:28.941|
|15.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||1:28.941|
|16.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||1:28.953|
|17.||Will Davison^||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||1:28.953|
|18.||Craig Lowndes^||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||1:28.995|
|19.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||1:29.098|
|20.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||1:29.126|
|21.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||1:29.365|
|22.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||1:29.638|
|23.||Marcos Ambrose||XBOX racing DJR / Ford Falcon FG||1:29.782|
|24.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||1:29.796|
|25.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||1:30.083.|
|26.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||excluded|
Images via Christian Hartung