PUKEKOHE, New Zealand — Jamie Whincup prevented his Red Bull Racing Australia Teammate Shane Van Gisbergen from grabbing a complete sweep of pole positions during Sunday’s qualifying sessions for the ITM Auckland Supersprint.
Whincup grabbed pole right at the end of qualifying for Race 27, while Van Gisbergen, who will start on pole for Race 26, finished second after his last lap was aborted.
“Yeah, happy days,” Whincup said. “Didn’t quite know it on the first lap, but I made a bit of a tune for the second and she was right.”
The day dawned bright and sunny for the first qualifying session of the day, and as the cars rolled out for the 10-minute session, one driver was lucky to be out there. Jason Bright had his BOC Commodore practically destroyed in a heavy wreck with Chris Pither in Saturday’s first race, and after the team worked through the night, he was out and ready to make a good run on Sunday.
Cameron Waters spun going into the turn five chicane on his first lap. Waters would finish 21st in the session. Craig Lowndes also had trouble at the same corner, going off slightly, but would recover to finish seventh.
Lowndes said he had a better day than Saturday, and that he and new engineer John McGregor were meshing better.
“Today’s much better, we’ve been working overnight, had a good debrief,” Lowndes said. “Irish [McGregor] and I are clicking better, he’s really calm on the radio, which is good. We’ve made small steps, progress over yesterday so far, we’ve just got one more qualifying to go.”
Mark Winterbottom held the early pole from Van Gisbergen at the halfway point with a 1:03.301, 0.0302 seconds faster than the Holden driver. Cars hit the pits at the halfway point to get a new set of tires and prepare for their final runs.
Traffic was thick in this second half, but Chaz Mostert grabbed the pole first, then Rick Kelly, then Fabian Coulthard and finally Coulthard’s DJR Team Penske teammate Scott Pye. Pye would hold it right to the death, but Van Gisbergen went better by 0.0076 seconds to grab his third pole of the weekend.
Pye said if he hadn’t made a slight bobble, he probably would have gotten pole.
“I didn’t realize we were that close, front row’s great, but it’s bittersweet, it’s just so annoying,” Pye said. “Coming onto the front straight, I dropped the rear left in the dirt, and had a big moment, and I think that probably cost me half a tenth and that would have been enough.”
Top Ten Results for Race 26 Qualifying
1. Shane Van Gisbergen
2. Scott Pye
3. Fabian Coulthard
4. Mark Winterbottom
5. Jamie Whincup
6. Chaz Mostert
7. Craig Lowndes
8. Scott McLaughlin
9. Will Davison
10. Michael Caruso
After a short break, the second session began with everyone going out to figure out what changes they made during the break would work.
Whincup held the early pole from Winterbottom, but McLaughlin went fastest by about 0.038 seconds.
The cars hit the pits to prepare for one final strong run. Van Gisbergen sat fifth, 0.145 behind McLaughlin at the mini-break.
Whincup looked to be fastest with under two minutes remaining, gaining pole by 0.189 over McLaughlin. Winterbottom went faster by two-thousandths of a second.
Van Gisbergen was pushing hard with under a minute left, but could only manage a time 0.016 seconds slower as Whincup took pole with about 10 seconds to go.
McLaughlin said that while he was glad the racing was close, he wished he could have grabbed pole.
“I love this category, but I hate this category,” he said.
Top Ten Results for Race 27 Qualifying
1. Jamie Whincup
2. Shane Van Gisbergen
3. Scott McLaughlin
4. Chaz Mostert
5. Mark Winterbottom
6. Fabian Coulthard
7. Will Davison
8. Scott Pye
9. Craig Lowndes
10. James Moffat