Fabian Coulthard faces an uphill battle to retain his Virgin Australia Supercars Championship lead at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 after struggling to 22nd in qualifying.
Coulthard leads the standings by just 37 points over Jamie Whincup following a tough Saturday in which the Kiwi qualified 16th and finished 19th after a late-race penalty.
While the Shell V-Power Fords were expected to return to form in today’s dry weather, Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin managed just 22nd and 13th respectively in qualifying.
Whincup locked in a Top 10 Shootout berth with sixth in the same session, while Chaz Mostert – who is just 121 points behind Coulthard in fourth – qualified third.
Sitting fifth and 217 points behind Coulthard, Shane van Gisbergen claimed provisional pole.
“We pitted on a lap where we were going to be up, which we shouldn’t have done,” reflected Coulthard.
“We tried to give ourselves our best shot with another set [of tyres] thinking we could improve a fair bit more but it wasn’t to be.
“Scotty and I are both struggling. It’s been tough, but we’ll regroup and go again. It’s a long race this afternoon.”
McLaughlin said post-session that he was struggling for braking feel, with his final run including a trip down the Turn 11 escape road.
Coulthard meanwhile suggested his car is not riding the kerbs as well as others.
“I feel like it’s flying a little bit too much off the middle part of the beach chicane,” he continued.
“[But] I’m not making any excuses, we’re not in a window where we can make it work at the moment.
“Scotty has been the benchmark qualifier this year and he’s struggling as well. Across the board we’ve got a bit of work to do.”
Yesterday’s wet qualifying ended a run of 18 consecutive front-row starts for McLaughlin.
Coulthard, however, has not seen the front-row since Race 7 of the season at Barbagallo.