McLaughlin snares last-gasp Race 9 pole
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Scott McLaughlin scored his fifth AMROR ALL Pole Award of 2017 in thrilling fashion ahead of Race 9 at Winton Motor Raceway.
Despite topping the morning’s practice, McLaughlin struggled in the early stages of the 15 minute qualifying session and sat just 17th with five minutes on the clock.
He improved to sixth before making a third and final run where, pushed back to ninth, he improved by 0.6s to record a 1:19.38s.
That was enough to deny Supercheap Auto Ford driver Chaz Mostert pole by 0.16s.
“It was all part of the plan,” said McLaughlin of his late lap.
“It was pretty rushed there, I was trying to get a nice gap. There was a bit of traffic, I was lucky to hang on.
“I was pretty pumped after that one, when you work for it, it makes it good.”
Red Bull duo Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup sat one-two ahead of the final runs but were pushed to the second row as they failed to improve.
Van Gisbergen, who said he backed out of his second run after encountering yellow flags, added that there is more work to do to match the front-running Fords.
“We’re not good enough on the bumps,” he said.
“We’ve got a good car on the flat corners but when we have to use the kerbs our car is not so stable.”
Fabian Coulthard ended up fifth after his session followed a similar progression to Shell V-Power team-mate McLaughlin.
The championship leader sat 11th before he recorded his best effort with the chequered flag flying.
Nick Percat led the Brad Jones Racing charge in sixth ahead of Rick Kelly, Will Davison, Mark Winterbottom and Cameron Waters.
Reigning Winton winner Tim Slade was down in 15th, while Craig Lowndes failed to match his Triple Eight team-mates on the way to 19th.
Lowndes will start between wildcard runners James Golding and Macauley Jones, who both impressed ahead of their first solo main series starts.
Mobil 1 HSV’s horror run meanwhile continued with Scott Pye 21st and James Courtney 23rd.
The 120km Race 9 will get underway at 4pm local time.
CLICK HERE for the full Race 9 qualifying result.