Rick Kelly hands Nissan Hidden Valley pole

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 17/06/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Rick Kelly has ended Shell V-Power Racing’s stranglehold on Supercars qualifying by scoring the ARMOR ALL Pole Award for Race 11 at Hidden Valley.

Two years since his last career pole at the same venue, Kelly set a 1:05.71s in the opening minutes of the qualifying session that would not be beaten.

Shell duo Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard will line-up second and third respectively after a session that saw the top three covered by just 0.06s.

Kelly’s pole comes on the one-year anniversary of Nissan’s last win, which was scored at Hidden Valley by Michael Caruso.

CLICK HERE for the full Race 11 qualifying result.

“The lap was ok. I clipped the kerb and thought I blew it so to be first is obviously a credit to the guys with the car,” said Kelly, who moved his career pole tally to nine.

“It’s on rails at the moment so we’ve got to put our heads down and make sure it’s good for the race.

“The circuit definitely suits us since the resurface (in 2015). The long straight still hurts us but it’s still a strong track for us.

“It’s a long race, 42 laps, so we’ve got to make sure we keep the tyres on it and see what we can do from there.”

McLaughlin had been fourth behind Kelly, Coulthard and David Reynolds after the first round of flying laps before improving to third and eventually second.

“It’s not too bad,” said Coulthard of being bumped from the front-row by his team-mate in a session that ended the team's pole streak at six.

“We were able to save a set of tyres and I think they’re pretty valuable around here.”

Reynolds ended up fourth from Shane van Gisbergen, who led the Triple Eight charge in a difficult session for the factory Holden team.

Team-mate Jamie Whincup had been down in 23rd before jumping to ninth on his final run, while Craig Lowndes did not improve late and slid to 19th.

By contrast, Brad Jones Racing had a solid run with Nick Percat and Tim Slade sixth and eighth respectively, sandwiching Prodrive’s Chaz Mostert.

Cameron Waters made it two Prodrive Falcons in the top 10, while Mark Winterbottom struggled to 17th.

While Kelly scored pole, Caruso managed just 22nd in his Altima – a disappointing effort after recording the third quickest time in practice this morning.

The long gap between sessions meant qualifying was held in vastly warmer conditions, challenging drivers and engineers.

“We tried something in practice that worked and unfortunately it’s turned the other way for qualifying,” said Caruso.

Erebus also had mixed fortunes, with Reynolds' strong run weighed against a late crash for Dale Wood.

Having already set a time good enough for 16th, Wood understeered off at Turn 11 on his final lap, making heavy nose-first contact with the tyre wall.

This afternoon’s 120km race will get underway at 1615 local time.

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