The battle for honours at the Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 is shaping up as a fight between the Red Bull Holdens and a herd of Ford Mustangs.
In Qualifying on Thursday afternoon at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, Red Bull Holden Racing Team drivers Shane Van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup shared the honours, each taking a pole for the opening two races.
In the first 10-minute session Van Gisbergen set a time of 1:55.2240, to snatch pole from Whincup by 0.0890s. Will Davison was the fastest of the Fords in his 23Red Mustang, a tenth clear of two-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin.
Andre Heimgartner was fifth fastest in his Kelly Racing Ford, ahead of Anton de Pasquale (Erebus Motorsport Holden Commodore).
In the second session, it was Whincup’s turn to take pole, in spite of touching the wall on one of his laps and damaging a wheel.
“I didn’t really have a good rhythm in the first one, and I whacked the wall and bent a rim,” he said. “But all good. Obviously both cars are really strong.”
The big mover was the Monster Energy Ford of Cam Waters, who went within 0.1118s of knocking Whincup from pole, after setting just the eighth-fastest time in the first session.
“I’ve been driving like a bit of a ******** through Turn 9!” Vaters admitted after the sessions.
“We are pushing each other, [we’re] pretty happy in the Tickford camp.”
Davison will again start from third place, ahead of Van Gisbergen, McLaughlin and Heimgartner’s teammate David Reynolds, who won one of the Supercars races at the circuit in 2018. He was down in 17th place, the former Bathurst 1000 winner struggling to find a rhythm.
Macauley Jones missed the Qualifying sessions after brake failure pitched him into a wall, the impact recorded at 16G. Jones will start from the rear of the grid for both races.
Friday’s Supercars action will start with two more 10-minute Qualifying sessions, due to start at 10:10am (for Race 3) and 10:30am (for Race 4). The opening race to determine the winner of the Larry Perkins Trophy will be at 1:50pm, over 20 laps.
The Beaurepaires Supercars Melbourne 400 will race over two more 20-lappers on Saturday, before the final race of weekend, due at 12:55pm on Sunday.
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