Bathurst: McLaughlin claims provisional pole in unpredictable wet session
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In wet conditions, Scott McLaughlin has claimed provisional pole at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 over Chaz Mostert and Shane van Gisbergen.
It was a chaotic session, wet from start from finish. Numerous big names missed out on a top 10 berth in the treacherous weather, including Fabian Coulthard (16th), James Courtney (18th), and most notably David Reynolds (22nd).
Times early in the session were well over the 2min 30sec mark, with improvements incremental until Chaz Mostert landed a competitive 2:30.632. The rain was quite comprehensive, unlike some past showers that impacted some sections and not others. After 15 minutes of running, the field was spread by 10 seconds.
Mostert the first to go under the 2min 30sec bracket, with a 2:29.953. At the 40-minute session's halfway mark he led McLaughlin, Nick Percat, Scott Pye, Shane van Gisbergen, and an impressive Richie Stanaway in sixth.
Most drivers were adapting well to the conditions, apart from those running wide at The Chase. These included van Gisbergen, McLaughlin, Percat, and many more. It was becoming clear that conditions wouldn't improve for the final minutes.
As the final 10-minute stanza of qualifying began, McLaughlin was now the leader on a 2:28.187. He headed Mostert, Percat, Tim Slade, Will Davison, Pye, van Gisbergen, James Golding, James Courtney, and Stanaway. Well outside the top 10 was Jamie Whincup, who entered the final 10 down in 23rd. Mark Winterbottom and Andre Heimgartner (who starred earlier in the day with second in final Friday practice) were also buried in 20th and 21st.
The final 10 minutes were chaos, but not necessarily at the tip of the top 10. McLaughlin's time was sharp, and looked tough to beat. Elsewhere in the top 10 though there was plenty of chopping and changing. Cameron Waters, after sitting out almost the whole session for mechanical issues, leaped to seventh with just a few minutes to go. But he was one of the many.
The final minute kicked off with Slade jumping to third behind McLaughlin and Mostert. Whincup then took up ninth, but was still clearly vulnerable. Hazelwood them pushed him down a spot by taking eighth, with Stanaway pipping them both for sixth.
Anton De Pasquale and Percat both improved as the clock hit zero, taking sixth and fifth respectively. But even then there was plenty of change to come. Both Red Bull caers then rejoined the top 10, pumping out Stanaway. Waters also improved once again to eighth.
When the dust settled, McLaughlin had provisional pole over Mostert, van Gisbergen, Davison, Slade, Percat, Whincup, Waters, Winterbottom, and de Pasquale. Those drivers made up the order for tomorrow's top 10 shootout. Four Ford Mustangs and six Holden Commodores.
Rick Kelly, Stanaway, and Heimgartner were the first of those to miss out on the top 10, qualifying 11th to 13th. The biggest casualty though was Reynolds, who will start The Great Race from 22nd on the grid.
Both wildcard entries were impressive in the conditions. Brodie Kostecki was as high as 14th, eventually qualifying 24th — one spot ahead of the international wildcard Napa entry of Alexander Rossi in 25th. Although they aren't near the front, they were quick enough to beat full-timer Jack Le Brocq, and were within four tenths of Reynolds' time.
The top 10 shootout kicks off tomorrow at 6.55pm NZDT.
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, qualifying results
1. Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat
2. Chaz Mostert/James Moffat
3. Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander
4. Will Davison/Alex Davison
5. Tim Slade/Ash Walsh
6. Nick Percat/Tim Blanchard
7. Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes
8. Cameron Waters/Michael Caruso
9. Mark Winterbottom/Steve Richards
10. Anton de Pasquale/Will Brown
11. Rick Kelly/Dale Wood
12. Richie Stanaway/Chris Pither
13. Andre Heimgartner/Bryce Fullwood
14. Scott Pye/Warren Luff
15. Todd Hazelwood/Jack Smith
16. Fabian Coulthard/Tony D'Alberto
17. Simona De Silvestro/Alex Rullo
18. James Courtney/Jack Perkins
19. James Golding/Richard Muscat
20. Lee Holdsworth/Thomas Randle
21. Garry Jacobson/Dean Fiore
22. David Reynolds/ Luke Youlden
23. Macauley Jones/Dean Canto
24. Brodie Kostecki/Jake Kostecki
25. Alexander Rossi/James Hinchcliffe
26. Jack Le Brocq/Jonathon Webb