SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
The story of round one of ARMOR ALL Pole Qualifying for the Sydney NRMA 500 finale was simple — the big names waited until the end, but they still got in to the Top Ten Shootout.
Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin — the latter of which is fighting to tie Whincup for the season-long ARMOR ALL Pole Award at 10 — all waited until inside the final five minutes of the 20 minute session to make their quick runs, but all three landed in the fastest ten when the clock hit zero.
Neither of their runs, however, were enough to top the lap posted by Tekno Autosport’s Shane van Gisbergen — the Kiwi put up a top time of 1:27.9054 seconds to top the ten drivers advancing to the pole scramble at Sydney Olympic Park. Van Gisbergen was the only driver to break into the 1 minute-27 second bracket in the first round of time trials.
Holden driver Garth Tander clocked in second, albeit a third of a second off of van Gisbergen. The former champion’s lap of 1:28.2434 seconds was good enough for the runner-up slot, but the HRT Commodore will need more in the final round to usurp the Tekno No. 97 for the final pole of 2014.
Whincup’s last run left him third on the pylon (1:28.3054) and yesterday’s surprise frontrunner David Reynolds clocked in fourth to advance (1:28.3980). Championship runner-up Mark Winterbottom rounded out the fast five (1:28.4039).
Scott Pye, McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, Rick Kelly and James Courtney were the remaining drivers to advance to the Top Ten Shootout.
Notables who failed to break into the top ten were Fabian Coulthard (the first man out in 11th), Jason Bright (12th), Craig Lowndes (18th) and man of the moment Marcos Ambrose (23rd), who failed to improve on his starting positions from yesterday’s action.
With positions 11-26 now filled, the stage no shifts to the Top Ten Shootout, which gets underway at 1:30 p.m. local time.
Round 1 Qualifying Results
11. Fabian Coulthard — 1:28.7411