McLaughlin bags pole at Bathurst
GETTY IMAGES SCOTT McLaughlin will start the Bathurst 1000 in pole position after setting the fastest time in yesterday’s thrilling top 10 shootout around the 6.213km circuit.
The 24-year-old Kiwi recorded the fastest ever official lap around Mount Panorama, with a time of 2:03.831 around the famous course.
McLaughlin went last in the shootout, having been fastest in Friday’s qualifying session and it looked as if he could have blown it when he put two wheels off the track at McPhillamy, but incredibly he was able to keep the pace high and make this his 18th front row start in a row.
He’ll go into today’s race as the red hot favourite and if he manages to pull off the biggest race win of his life, he’ll be the first Kiwi main game driver to win the Bathurst 1000 since Greg Murphy in 2004.
First to go in the shootout was Garth Tander, who did a time of 2:05.326, Jason Bright was able to knock a 10th of a second off that time. Following a slow time from James Courtney, Shane van Gisbergen set a new benchmark. The reigning Supercars champion was faster at every sector and posted a time of 2:04.669
Fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard was fast for the first part of his lap, but nearly put his Ford into the wall at the Cutting, however he was still only three 10ths of a second slower than van Gisbergen.
Mark Winterbottom, who has had an average season recorded a quicker time than van Gisbergen at 2:04.499, while Cameron Waters, who is sharing a car with Richie Stanaway, was a touch slower than van Gisbergen.
Chaz Mostert 0.09 seconds slower than his Prodrive Racing Australia team-mate, Winterbottom, but David Reynolds confirmed his spot on the front row with a new fastest time of 2:04.275. McLaughlin was the only driver who could knock him off pole position and at one point on the lap it looked like he’d overcooked one corner, but not so and he’ll be the driver to beat in the 1000km race. Meanwhile, three of the New Zealand codrivers didn’t need to watch any of the action yesterday, as their main drivers didn’t make it into the shootout.
So Tim Slade and Andre Heimgartner will start the Great Race in 18th place, Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards are a place further back on the grid, while Dale Wood and Chris Pither will start from 21st place. For Heimgartner it’s been a couple of days where he’s been on a steep learning curve, as the first time he stepped into the car he’ll be racing was on Friday morning.
Ash Walsh was supposed to be Slade’s co-driver, but he made call early on Friday that the pain from his four broken ribs, picked up when crashing a sports car last week – was too severe.
Heimgartner was at Bathurst to just race in the Porsche Carrera Cup, but was called up to get a seat in the main race as team owner, Brad Jones regarded him as the best option.
‘‘It’s awesome to be racing in the big race again and obviously with a good driver like Tim it’s going to be exciting,’’ Heimgartner said.
‘‘I’m slowly getting used to the car more and feeling comfortable in it. But it’s one of those things where you need laps.’’ Shootout, Mount Panorama, Bathurst (circuit: 6.213km): 1. Scott McLaughlin (Ford) 2mins3.8310sec2. David Reynolds (Holden) 2:04.27503. Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2:04.49904. Chaz Mostert (Ford) 2:04.58805. Shane Van Gisbergen (Holden) 2:04.66906. Cameron Waters (Ford) 2:04.68007. Fabian Coulthard (Ford) 2:04.96908. Jason Bright (Ford) 2:05.22809. Garth Tander (Holden) 2:05.326010. James Courtney (Holden) 2:05.4890
Kiwi driver Scott McLaughlin roars his way around the Mount Panorama track in his Ford Falcon FGX yesterday.
Kiwi star Scott McLaughlin.