Jamie Whincup and David Reynolds have claimed qualifying honours ahead of Saturday’s two sprint races at the V8 Supercars Championship round, the ITM 500 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Race 28 Qualifying: Whincup back on top of the timesheets
Defending series champion Jamie Whincup won pole position for Race 28 despite an off-track moment in the final moments of the first 10-minute qualifying session.
The Red Bull Racing driver clocked a 1:03.3203 time around the 2.91-kilometre circuit with his first flying lap, and fell just short of bettering the time on his next run.
He had another crack on the same tyre set, but pushed too hard and slid off at Turn 4 – luckily he managed to reverse out of the grass run-off and avoided triggered a red flag in the process to ensure that his fastest lap stood.
David Reynolds led the charge for the Prodrive Racing stable, putting in a late effort to lap a scant four-thousandths of a second slower than Whincup to give himself a front-row start.
The Erebus Motorsport-bound driver was chased hard by fellow-Ford runner Scott Pye, who put in his best qualifying performance of the season for DJR Team Penske with the third-fastest time ahead of local driver Shane van Gisbergen in the TEKNO Autosports Holden.
Fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin was unable to replicate his pace-setting form in practice, qualifying fifth-fastest in his Polestar Racing Volvo, while championship frontrunners Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom will battle it out from sixth and seventh on the grid respectively.
Michael Caruso and James Moffat managed to get their Nissans inside the top-ten in eighth and tenth respectively, sandwiching James Courtney’s HRT Commodore on the timesheets.
There was drama among the rookies when Cameron Waters and Ash Walsh came together in the Turn 5/6 chicane in the closing stages of the session, with Waters drying an ambitious lunge up the inside of Walsh’s Erebus Mercedes at the right-hand corner.
Walsh’s car was out on the spot with damage, while Waters was able to limp to the pits and ended the session 14th-fastest. The Prodrive Racing stand-in driver was subsequently docked four grid places by the stewards for his role in the contact.
|2015 V8 Supercars ITM 500 Auckland – Race 28 Qualifying Top-10|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||1:03.3203|
|2.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 0.0045|
|3.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 0.0850|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO Autosports||+ 0.1325|
|5.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 0.1569|
|6.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 0.2479|
|7.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 0.2671|
|8.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.3338|
|9.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 0.3349|
|10.||James Moffat||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.4082|
Race 29 Qualifying: Reynolds rapid on the soft tyres
The second qualifying session saw the Dunlop soft tyres in action, and everyone held on until the final few minutes of the session before posting competitive lap times.
The grippier rubber made a significant difference to the lap times compared with the earlier session, with David Reynolds ultimately claiming top spot with a time almost a second faster than Whincup’s pole-winning effort for Race 28.
Reynolds beat Craig Lowndes to pole by just two-hundredths of a second, with Scott McLaughlin going third-fastest in his Volvo to leap ahead of James Courtney and Mark Winterbottom.
The softer rubber and crowded track meant that a number of drivers who performed well in the preceding session failed to make their mark second time around. The four-car Nissan Motorsport stable struggled in particular, with Rick Kelly the best-placed of the quartet in fifteenth.
Shane van Gisbergen also failed to string a good enough lap together and qualified a lowly thirteenth-fastest at his home event.
The session was a highlight for Cameron Waters, who qualified tenth-fastest after rapid repair work to his suspension by his Prodrive Racing mechanics.
|2015 V8 Supercars ITM 500 Auckland – Race 29 Qualifying Top-10|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||1:02.4690|
|2.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 0.0228|
|3.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 0.1024|
|4.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 0.1220|
|5.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 0.1982|
|6.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 0.2312|
|7.||Tim Slade||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 0.3013|
|8.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 0.3706|
|9.||Fabian Coulthard||Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.3845|
|10.||Cameron Waters||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 0.4041|
Races 28 and 29 – both over 21 laps – will take place at 3:00pm and 5:00pm respectively (GMT +13).
Image via V8 Supercars
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