Scott McLaughlin has claimed one of the most popular pole positions of his career by going fastest in qualifying for the final race of the ITM 500 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
In front of a bumper crowd, the Polestar GRM Volvo clocked his fastest lap of Sunday’s twenty-minute session with just a minute left on the clock to edge out defending champion Jamie Whincup by just over one-thousandth of a second.
“To put in a lap like that was awesome! I’m that pumped right now it’s crazy.” McLaughlin said after claiming the fourth pole position of his season.
The impressive youngster Scott Pye capped off the best weekend of his career from a qualifying standpoint to equal his career-best third-fastest effort from Saturday, lapping his DJR Team Penske just 0.0559 seconds slower than McLaughlin.
Race 29 winner David Reynolds survived a low-speed front-end impact with the tyres at Turn 4 on his first qualifying run, bouncing back to complete the second row of the starting grid in his Bottle-O Racing Ford.
In an incredibly tight qualifying session, Michael Caruso was just over one-tenth of a second off pole in his Nissan, and will start from fifth place ahead of local drivera Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen. The pair sandwiched McLaughlin’s future teammate James Moffat, who was seventh-fastest in his Nissan.
Championship leader Mark Winterbottom kept himself in the hunt with the ninth-fastest time, although will no doubt be frustrated that his midfield starting position puts him at unwarranted risk of getting caught up in someone else’s drama at such a tenuous point in the championship fight.
Having had his #888 Red Bull Racing Holden extensively repaired overnight, Craig Lowndes declared himself delighted with his car’s handling en route to qualifying tenth-fastest. He will need to have a very strong result in Sunday’s 69-lap race in order to keep his title hopes well and truly alive.
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||1:03.1629|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 0.0014|
|3.||Scott Pye||DJR Team Penske||+ 0.0559|
|4.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 0.0888|
|5.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.1219|
|6.||Fabian Coulthard||Brad Jones Racing||+ 0.1645|
|7.||James Moffat||Nissan Motorsport||+ 0.1803|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO Autosports||+ 0.1990|
|9.||Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||+ 0.2205|
|10.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 0.3031|
Races 30 – run over 69 laps – will take place at 4:00pm (GMT +13).
Image via V8 Supercars