Jamie Whincup blasted himself into provisional pole for tomorrow Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in an epic fight between the Supercars superpowers at Mount Panorama.
But this could all change today for the four-time Bathurst Champion with todays top ten shootout set to decide the offical grid for tomorrow 1000km race, Jamie is out to avenge missed opportunities at Bathurst by ripping pole from the clutches of the other ten drivers.
In Qualifying with just .17 separating first and third, blows were traded every lap. Whincup, aiming to complete a rare Sandown-Bathurst double, emerged the quickest, by a whisker.
The achievement was even more daring given it was the first time any of the field had been out in the dry after constant drizzle until midway through the day. Conditions are expected to be dry for the rest of the weekend and this afternoon’s ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout.
“I have done a lot of laps around this place but never without a practice in the dry before qualifying, with new tyres, just hanging on the edge,” Whincup said.
“That’s by far the quickest I have been around this place in a Supercar, couldn’t be happier.”
Whincup said he was not aware of the battle going on around him as Reynolds flew in his Erebus Penrite Holden and McLaughlin in the Shell V-Power Falcon.
“I had no idea what else was going on or what anyone else was doing,” he said. “I knew I had done a 4.3 and that there was a little more in it. I am just keen to watch the replay to see what happened.”
Whether that means Whincup is now the favourite, he wasn’t buying any of it.
“I am not one to make big statements like that,” said Whincup. “It’s an educated guess on setup because you just don’t know what to do. It’s the first time here in the ZB (Commodore) with so many mechanical changes in the car.”
The big guns traded blows through the entire session. First it was Reynolds who broke into the 2m:05s barrier, quickly followed by Whincup and McLaughlin.
James Courtney hovered around the top four, before he hit the top halfway through the session, breaking what at the time was a Ford 1-2-3 with McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters.
Courtney hit the top again by shading McLaughlin by .009s at one stage before Whincup struck back. Courtney finished that day in fifth after Shane van Gisbergen dropped into fourth in the late flurry.
Craig Lowndes broke into the ten late in the session to give himself a shot today while Waters was seventh with former Bathurst champ Nick Percat in eighth.
Reynolds’ rookie team-mate Anton de Pasquale jumped into the mix as well in ninth. Three-time Mountain king Garth Tander was the last into the shootout in tenth.
This year’s event marks 50 years since Holden’s first win at Mount Panorama, while fans will also can “Honour the Falcon” with Ford Australia announcing the Mustang will return to the grid from 2019, while there will be three new inductees to Supercars Legend’s Lane.
Fox Sports 506 has a dedicated, 24/7 Bathurst channel for race week.
Supercars and Foxtel will broadcast the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 4K, making the sport the first in Australia to be televised in the highest possible resolution available in the country.