V8 Supercars Championship contenders Mark Winterbottom and Craig Lowndes will bookend the grid for Saturday’s opening 125-kilometre race that kicks off the season-ending Coates Hire Sydney 500.

Championship leader Winterbottom claimed the most important pole position of his career as he seeks to earn his maiden title, while his sole rival Lowndes struck major trouble. Lowndes was the highest-profile driver to come unstuck in an incident-filled session, hitting the barriers at Turn 11. He will start the firsty race from 25th position on the grid.

The second flying run was enough to give Winterbottom just his third pole position of the season ahead of street circuit ace Shane van Gisbergen, who should count himself unlucky that he didn’t claim top spot for himself.

The TEKNO Autosports driver was on course to eclipse Winterbottom’s time, only for James Moffat to crash his Nissan in the final sector of the lap, which made it impossible for the New Zealander to lower his benchmark time.

HRT’s James Courtney was third-fastest among a gaggle of other Holdens which included Jason Bright, Jamie Whincup, and Tim Slade. Slade looks unlikely to participate in today’s second qualifying session after he hit the tyres on his second flying lap and sustained major damage to his Walkinshaw Racing Holden.

Rick Kelly, James Moffat, Fabian Coulthard and Garth Tander rounded out the fastest ten qualifiers.

Race 34, held over 34 laps, will start at 2:15pm local time (GMT +11).

2015 V8 Supercars Coates Hire Sydney 500 – Race 34 Qualifying Top-10
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia 1:27.7596
2. Shane van Gisbergen TEKNO Autosports + 0.0938
3. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 0.3006
4. Jason Bright Brad Jones Racing + 0.3261
5. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Racing / Triple 8 + 0.3290
6. Tim Slade Walkinshaw Racing + 0.3714
7. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 0.4188
8. James Moffat Nissan Motorsport + 0.5852
9. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Racing + 0.6791
10. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 0.8392

Image via Motorsport.com

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Geoff Burke

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