Holden’s James Courtney and Nissan’s Rick Kelly have broken Prodrive Racing’s pole-winning streak by posting the fastest time in the respective qualifying sessions for Saturday’s two SkyCity Triple Crown sprint races at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway.
Qualifying for the thirteenth race of the 2015 season saw Courtney end Chaz Mostert’s run of four successive pole positions by the slimmest of margins – just under three-hundredths of a second.
The Holden Racing Team driver posted his fastest time of the ten-minute session, a 1:07.1190, with just thirty seconds left on the clock to edge out the Prodrive youngster. Mostert had provisionally held pole with a 1:07.15 effort on his first flying lap, but was unable to improve on his second run and will share the front row with Courtney.
Reigning champion Jamie Whincup improved to the third-fastest time on his second run, having languished in fourteenth place beforehand.
Fabian Coulthard similarly improved from seventh to fourth on his last lap in the Brad Jones Racing Holden, bumping TEKNO Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen and the second Prodrive of championship leader Mark Winterbottom to the third row of the grid.
The fourth row of the grid was claimed by the improving Nissans of Rick Kelly and James Moffat, with Craig Lowndes (Red Bull Racing) and Tim Slade (SuperCheap Auto Racing) rounding out the top ten in their Holdens.
It was an incredibly tight qualifying session where the fastest ten runners were covered by just over two-tenths of a second. Friday pacesetter David Reynolds was a further one-tenth of a second adrift in his Bottle-O Racing Ford and will start from twelfth place on the grid.
The first Sprint race takes place over 21 laps at 14:25 local time (GMT +9:30).
|2015 V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown – Race 13 Qualifying Top-10|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||1:07.1190|
|2.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 0.0295|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 0.0554|
|4.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 0.0560|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 0.6820|
|6.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 0.1012|
|7.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.1032|
|8.||James Moffat||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.1669|
|9.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 0.2094|
|10.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 0.2133|
Rick Kelly broke a four-year pole drought with a blistering performance in the second qualifying session, which saw the field run on the Soft compound Dunlop tyres. The Nissan driver lapped almost a second quicker than his Race 13 qualifying effort, edging out Fabian Coulthard by one-hundredth of a second.
With the softer rubber proving to be only good for one flying lap, many runners elected to attempt a single run to preserve their rubber for the remainder of the weekend.
The pair managed to demote Mostert to third ahead of van Gisbergen and Lowndes, while Michael Caruso put two Nissans in the top ten by qualifying sixth-fastest.
Race 13 pole-winner James Courtney managed a mirror image to Kelly, qualifying seventh-fastest ahead of his Walkinshaw Racing stablemate Slade.
Scott Pye put the sole DJR Team Penske Ford into ninth place on the grid ahead of Winterbottom, who will have to work hard to limit the potential damage to his slim championship lead after a comparatively poor session by his recent standards.
Reigning champion Jamie Whincup continued his inconsistent qualifying form of late, and will start from seventeenth place after a mistake on his flying lap.
Race 14 – also over 21 laps – will follow at 16:45 local time.
|2015 V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown – Race 14 Qualifying Top-10|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||1:06.2920|
|2.||Fabian Coulthard||Freightliner Racing||+ 0.0126|
|3.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 0.1370|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||Team Darrell Lea STIX||+ 0.2108|
|5.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||+ 0.2642|
|6.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.3240|
|7.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 0.3456|
|8.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 0.3478|
|9.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew||+ 0.3686|
|10.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 0.3742|
Images via V8 Supercars Championship