Jamie Whincup will be the final runner on track for the Bathurst 1000’s Top-10 Shootout for pole position after topping provisional qualifying at the Mount Panorama circuit.

The six-time series champion moved to the top of the timesheets on his final run, clocking a rapid 2:05.048 lap time around the daunting 6.2-kilometre circuit. A late effort from Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin fell just short of toppling the Red Bull Racing Holden driver from top spot, with the New Zealander lapping a scant one-tenth of a second slower in the final reckoning.

A surprise third-fastest was Tim Slade, with the Winton race-winner putting in an impressive effort in his Brad Jones Racing Holden. He finished ahead of Chaz Mostert, who successfully completed qualifying a year on from his bone-breaking smash at this very circuit that knocked him out of the championship race.

Fabian Coulthard (DJR Team Penske) was fifth-fastest thanks to his final run, ahead of Whincup’s teammate Shane van Gisbergen and defending champion Mark Winterbottom (Prodrive Racing Ford), who failed to improve on his final run.

Coulthard’s teammate Scott Pye capped off a great session for the DJR Team Penske stable by lapping eighth-fastest, ahead of Sandown 500 winner Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) and Michael Caruso (Nissan Motorsport), who were the final runners to make it into the Shootout.

Caruso was the sole Nissan driver to qualify inside the top-fifteen in a poor hit-out for the five-car effort. Dale Wood, Todd Kelly and Rick Kelly narrowly scraped into the top-twenth, while the wildcard entry piloted by Simona de Silvestro had an early bath after the Swiss driver buried her Altima in the gravel at The Chase while looking set to post her quickest lap of the weekend.

Her error came just four minutes after the end of a suspension to the session triggered by rookie driver Shae Davies sliding his Erebus Motorsport Holden off at the same place. Both cars will occupy the last two spots of the grid for Sunday’s race.

It was also a disastrous session for Craig Lowndes, who was one of several strong contenders who failed to make it into the Shootout. The series’ most experienced driver qualified a dreadful 21st-fastest, his worst ever performance at the event.

Two other drivers to miss out were James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) and Will Davison (TEKNO Autosports), who will start from 16th and 17th places respectively.

The one-lap Top-10 Shootout will take place at 17:10 local time.

2016 Australian Supercars SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 – Preliminary Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering 2:05.0481
2. Scott McLaughlin Polestar GRM Volvo + 0.1031
3. Tim Slade Brad Jones Racing + 0.1380
4. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 0.1575
5. Fabian Coulthard DJR Team Penske + 0.1803
6. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering + 0.1869
7. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 0.2913
8. Scott Pye DJR Team Penske + 0.4145
9. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 0.5344
10. Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport + 0.5426
11. Jason Bright Brad Jones Racing + 0.6185
12. Chris Pither Super Black Racing + 0.6325
13. Cameron Waters Prodrive Racing Australia + 0.7467
14. David Reynolds Erebus Motorsport + 0.7900
15. Lee Holdsworth Charlie Schwerkolt Racing + 0.8936
16. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 0.9456
17. Will Davison TEKNO Autosport + 0.9460
18. Dale Wood Nissan Motorsport + 0.9838
19. Todd Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 1.0092
20. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 1.1334
21. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering + 1.1808
22. Nick Percat LD Motorsport + 1.2227
23. James Moffat Polestar GRM Volvo + 1.2297
24. Tim Blanchard Brad Jones Racing + 1.4035
25. Andre Heimgartner LD Motorsport + 2.0661
26. Simona de Silvestro Nissan Motorsport + 4.6201
27. Shae Davies Erebus Motorsport + 14.3364

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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