Kiwis claim Supercars lockout: McLaughlin on pole for Sydney race one
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Scott McLaughlin has claimed pole for the Supercars Championship's returning race at Sydney Motorsport Park after a lengthy Covid-19 hiatus.
To claim the pole, the 62nd of his career, McLaughlin had to pip fierce rival and fellow Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. The duo will start this afternoon's race together on the front row, ahead of Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert.
The shootout was set up by a qualifying session that took place earlier; the session somewhat overshadowed (literally) by dark clouds and the threat of potential rain.
Among the most notable names to miss out on the session were Andre Heimgartner and Dave Reynolds. McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup emerged at the top, ahead of Fabian Coulthard, and the ultra-impressive pairing of Todd Hazelwood and Scott Pye.
Van Gisbergen, Bryce Fullwood, Mark Winterbottom, Mostert, Anton de Pasquale, Nick Percat, Lee Holdsworth, Macauley Jones, Waters, and Rick Kelly made up the remainder of the drivers making it into the top-15 shootout.
With Kelly exceeding track limits during his lap and subsequently losing his time, Waters was the first to land a time; a very competitive 1:28.2602 ... the second quickest lap-time of the day thus far.
Jones and Holdsworth couldn't match Waters' sharp time. Percat came very close, slotting in a 1:28.3453. Then came De Pasquale. The rapid Erebus Motorsport star produced a quickest first sector, and a competitive second sector. He looked on to challenge Waters, only to fade to fourth by the end of the lap.
Mostert would come closest to Waters out of the first half of runners, finishing up his lap just two hundredths shy of his former teammate.
Winterbottom and Fullwood followed, ending up sixth and seventh out of the runners up to that point. Van Gisbergen was next, finally edging Waters with a 1:28.1762. This came after the Kiwi topped the opening practice session, then ended up second in the following session.
After equalling van Gisbergen in the first split, Pye ended up just ahead of De Pasquale in sixth. Hazelwood ended his slightly loose lap (underlined by a kick-up of dust coming out of turn three) in ninth. Coulthard subsequently split the pairing, clocking in eighth with just Whincup and McLaughlin left to run.
Whincup was quick, but couldn't quite hang with van Gisbergen. In the end the former champ was fourth behind Mostert and ahead of Percat, the Red Bull racer saying after the lap that he didn't quite have the pace of the quickest drivers.
It left McLaughlin as the sole driver to challenge van Gisbergen. The series leader was a tenth quicker than his countryman at the first split, then followed that up with the quickest middle sector of the session. McLaughlin then romped home with another pole, via a 1:27.9658; the first '27' of the day.
Supercars Top 15 Shootout, Sydney Motorsport Park Race Seven
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Shane van Gisbergen
3. Cameron Waters
4. Chaz Mostert
5. Jamie Whincup
6. Nick Percat
7. Lee Holdsworth
8. Scott Pye
9. Anton De Pasquale
10. Fabian Coulthard
11. Bryce Fullwood
12. Todd Hazelwood
13. Mark Winterbottom
14. Macauley Jones
15. Rick Kelly