Whincup beats McLaughlin to Pukekohe pole

  • 05/11/2017
  • By Mitchell Adam
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Virgin Australia Supercars Championship leader Jamie Whincup will start Race 24 of the season from pole position, beating title rival Scott McLaughlin by just 0.0055 seconds.

Whincup claimed his second ARMOR ALL Pole Position of 2017, and first since the Symmons Plains event in April, with a 1:02.5148s lap around Pukekohe.

In a tight session, McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert and Mark Winterbottom all lapped within one tenth of the Red Bull Holden.

Winterbottom led the way after the first runs with a 1:02.6732s, sitting 0.2852s clear of Shane van Gisbergen, with Whincup and McLaughlin both within another tenth.

McLaughlin moved to the top entering the final 10 minutes, as cloud cover increased slightly, a 1:02.5203s the fastest lap of the weekend so far while Winterbottom also improved to be 0.0678s adrift.

With less than two minutes left on the clock, Whincup jumped up from eighth to top spot with a 1:02.5148s effort.

That was enough to finish 0.0055s clear of McLaughlin - who he leads in the standings by 18 points - while the Prodrive Falcons of Mostert, Winterbottom and Cam Waters fill the next three places.

“The car was good, we just really maximised that last lap, so happy days,” Whincup said.

“Heading out with green tyres in P7 and Scotty on pole, I had to pull it out and take risks. I could have ended up P20, but got pole.”

Tim Slade was sixth for Brad Jones Racing, ahead of Whincup’s team-mate van Gisbergen.

The reigning champion was the last out for the final runs following rear-end changes chasing understeer, which ultimately helped him move up four places from 11th at the very end.

In his repaired Shell Ford after rolling on Saturday afternoon, Fabian Coulthard sat second in the order mid-session and wound up eighth, ahead of James Moffat and David Reynolds.

“The guys have put the car back together perfectly, the steering wheel is straight, you can’t ask for much more,” Coulthard said.

“I’d like to have been a little bit further ahead but eighth isn’t too bad.”

Moffat went off track at Turn 3 early, but set his fastest time with seven minutes remaining, capitalising on having the track to himself.

Craig Lowndes was the only other driver to strike trouble, also at Turn 3 but on his final run, and wound up 12th, just ahead of the best Nissan of Michael Caruso.

The 70-lap, Race 24 of the campaign starts at 4:10pm local time

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