Van Gisbergen tops qualifying, Lowndes penalised

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 20/10/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam

Shane van Gisbergen led Jamie Whincup in ARMOR ALL Qualifying for Saturday's Vodafone Gold Coast 600 race, while Craig Lowndes copped a grid penalty.

Van Gisbergen pulled clear of the field late in what had been a tight session, his 1:10.1125s good enough to finish 0.3 seconds ahead of Red Bull HRT team-mate Whincup.

They will lead a group of 10 drivers also including van Gisbergen's title rival Scott McLaughlin into Saturday's ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout at Surfers Paradise.

Lowndes had a late tangle with rookie Richie Stanaway and has been handed a five-place grid penalty for impeding that drops him from 16th to 21st.

James Courtney led David Reynolds by a scant 0.0190s after the first runs of the 20 minutes, with a 1:10.7064s, drivers on a mixture of green and roaded tyres.

Whincup jumped from the bottom to the top after eight minutes with a 1:10.4546s, as Friday pacesetter van Gisbergen slotted into second. 

McLaughlin and then Reynolds displaced van Gisbergen, who then improved to ensure the top four were split by just 0.0753s with eight minutes remaining.

The next time around, Reynolds moved to the top of the order, lowering the benchmark to a 1:10.4220s.

That stood until the final two minutes, when van Gisbergen went three tenths clear with a 1:10.1125s.

Whincup improved but nobody could unseat van Gisbergen, who has taken a pole at the circuit in each of the last four years.

“The car has been good and we managed to do it on two sets of tyres,” van Gisbergen said.

“We’ve got another new set for the Shootout and then a spare set for tomorrow if we need it.

“It’s a fine line around here, I got a kerb strike on my first lap on the first run, which just dents your confidence, because you don’t know where the limit is.

“Then I had to build up throughout the laps, and you’ve got the walls as well, so there’s a couple of scrapes, but we got the time done.”

Reynolds wound up third, with the Shell Fords of McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard in fourth and sixth split by James Courtney.

Chaz Mostert, Michael Caruso, Nick Percat and Cameron Waters secured the other Shootout spots.

Rick Kelly was the unlucky 11th, finishing the session 0.122s shy of Waters.

Lowndes had a near miss with the Falcon of Coulthard at the final corner on his opening run, but took fourth the next time around.

The Autobarn Commodore was then on the other end of an impede with four minutes to go.

Warming his tyres fresh out of the pits at Turn 4, Lowndes got into the path of Stanaway's Falcon, which was on a flying lap, resulting in contact.

Lowndes finished the session 16th, 0.7441s off van Gisbergen, but falls to 21st with the sanction, while Stanaway was 24th.

“It’s one of those things. We all talk about traffic around here and I was one of them today, unfortunately,” Lowndes said.

“We went out for that run, I was looking in the rear-vision mirrors, all I could see was [Jack] Le Brocq behind me and all of a sudden he disappeared and Richie came on the scene.

“I’ll go up and apologise to him, it was my mistake, I should have got out of his way, but by the same token it’s difficult to get out of the way here.

“There was zero information [from my team], I was just told I was going out with the train, expecting everyone to be on the same program.”

Stanaway was philosophical about the incident.

“It was obviously just one of those things that was unfortunate for both of us,” he said.

“I thought he was getting out of the way and he was warming his tyres, and then by the time I realised I had too much car speed.

“It’s disappointing for both of us. It was probably not ideal the way we ran our session, obviously our run plan being a bit out of sync compromised my second tyre run as well."

The Milwaukee Racing Falcon was back in action, after repairs went well into the evening following Will Davison's Practice 3 accident.

Davison qualified 15th, while top rookie Anton De Pasquale takes the 16th spot Lowndes originally occupied.

The Top 10 Shootout follows at 11:25am AEST, before the 102-lap race starts at 2:25pm.

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