Nissan’s numbers added up to an unexpected top spot, as Mark Fattore reports
Michael Caruso has snared a well-deserved pole position for Nissan in the MSS Security V8 Supercar Challenge at the 2014 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, where he will be joined on the front row of the grid for race one by Holden’s Shane Van Gisbergen.
After setting the pace in practice, Caruso soon demonstrated he had the speed and temperament to remain at the pointy end in qualifying.
He was the only driver in the 25-car pack to dip into the 1:55 bracket during the 30-minute session – good enough to sneak under Craig Lowndes’ three-year-old lap record of 1:55.9682.
The Nissan eventually stopped the clock at 1:55.8311, ahead of Van Gisbergen (1:56.0275), while Scott McLaughlin (1:56.0654) made it three different manufacturers in the top three in his Volvo S60. In 2014, Volvo has returned to Aussie touring car racing for the first time in more than 20 years.
“This pole position was quite unexpected, although we did show pretty good pace in qualifying,” said Caruso.
“It is my first pole in V8 Supercars, so I am very proud. We will certainly enjoy this moment, as it’s a real credit to the engineers who have been putting a great package together.
“The real hard work will begin in race one, but this has been a very positive start to the Albert Park campaign.”
Caruso’s final words of impending warfare could be prophetic, as just 1.0955 seconds separated the entire field in qualifying, with the Mercedes E63 AMG of Lee Holdsworth book-ending the pack.
Holdsworth was the only driver in qualifying to produce some panel damage when he clipped the wall in the last five minutes of the session.
Jamie Whincup (Holden, 1:56.1071) will join McLaughlin on row two, followed by Todd Kelly (Nissan, 1:56.2262) and Lowndes (Holden, 1:56.2480).
Fabian Coulthard (Holden, 1:56.2770) leads row four, having dominated last year’s Albert Park challenge with three victories from four races; McLaughlin won the other.
Two races will be held on Friday at 11:00am and 2:25pm respectively, followed by single events on Saturday and Sunday.