On this day: Pither’s surprise pole at Queensland Raceway
Repco Supercars Championship
By Charlie Bullis
In a shock result for the Super Black Racing rookie, Chris Pither netted his first-ever Supercars ARMOR ALL pole position at the 2016 Ipswich SuperSprint.
The New Zealand driver clocked a 1:10.0737 lap in the final moments of the 15-minute session, to trump his Prodrive Racing teammate Chaz Mostert by 0.051s.
Only 25 cars took part in qualifying for Race 16, with Scott Pye’s car undergoing repairs following a heavy crash during practice.
The DJR Team Penske driver slammed head on into a tyre wall after suffering a brake failure and was forced to climb out of the passenger side door.
Pither surprised his rivals to claim his and the team’s first pole position in the series, ahead of the 120-kilometre race on Saturday afternoon.
The Prodrive duo held off the Triple Eight Race Engineering train to lock out the front row of the grid, with Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen completing the top five.
Ahead of his 50th Supercars race start in Sunday’s 200km race, Pither hoped it was a turning point for his rookie season.
“When my engineer Dilan (Talabani) told me we were on pole I had to pinch myself driving down pit lane,” Pither said following the result.
“The car’s been quick the whole time, I didn’t know if we’d manage that this year but it’s an absolutely amazing feeling.
“Hopefully this is a turning point for us this year; hopefully we can chip away at this championship now.”
Pither maintained his lead off the start but was challenged by Mostert at Turn 2.
The #111 Super Black Racing Ford Falcon ran wide and pushed Mostert off the circuit, allowing Whincup to take second by the following corner.
A Triple Eight battle ensued with van Gisbergen using his younger tyres to pass Lowndes on lap 35.
Striking two laps later to deny Whincup his 100th Supercars victory, van Gisbergen claimed his fourth win of the season.
Lowndes settled for third to score the team it’s second one-two-three result of 2016.
Mostert recovered to finish fifth behind defending champion Mark Winterbottom, with Pither in 11th.