Pole position for Shane van Gisbergen has moved the Supercars Championship points’ leader one step closer to claiming a maiden Drivers’ Championship title in the penultimate race of the season at Sydney Olympic Park.

The New Zealander edged out Red Bull Racing teammate and sole title rival Jamie Whincup with his seventh pole position of the season to continue the team’s unbeaten qualifying run to nine races on the trot.

Van Gisbergen’s rapid time of 1:26.6272 came halfway through a tight 20-minute qualifying session, which ultimately put him a sizable 0.35 seconds clear of any else on the timing screens as he scraped the doors of his Holden Commodore along the trackside barriers in his quest for an advantage.

Whincup gave the Triple Eight stable a front-row lockout with his time coming in the dying minutes of the session, which was briefly red-flagged so trackside marshals could reinstall the tyre bundle at the Turn 2/3 chicane after it was knocked out of place by Tim Slade. The six-time champion closed to within one-tenth of a second of his teammate, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Scott McLaughlin managed to break a Holden Commodore stranglehold of the session by popping his GRM Volvo into third place on the grid in his penultimate race outing for Garry Rogers Motorsport; he will share the second row of the grid with Craig Lowndes.

The Holden Racing Team duo of Garth Tander and James Courtney rounded out the top six in the team’s final weekend as Holden’s factory team.

Street circuit ace David Reynolds hauled his unfancied Erebus Motorsport Holden into seventh place (although he was subsequently excluded from the session by the stewards), with defending champion Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert and Rick Kelly completing the top ten places.

Van Gisbergen needs to finish in the top five, irrespective of Whincup’s result, to claim the Drivers’ Championship title.

The weekend’s opening 250-kilometre race starts at 15:45 local time (GMT +11).

2016 Australian Supercars Coates Hire Sydney 500 – Race 28 Top-10 Qualifying Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering 1:26.6272
2. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering + 0.1034
3. Scott McLaughlin Polestar GRM Volvo + 0.2183
4. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering + 0.4063
5. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 0.4261
6. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 0.5231
7. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 0.5741
8. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 0.6329
9. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport Nissan + 0.6472
10. Cameron Waters Prodrive Racing Australia + 0.7989

Image via Motorsport.com

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Geoff Burke

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