Former Supercars champion Garth Tander produced when it mattered to top the timesheets in qualifying at the carsales TCR Asia Pacific Cup on Thursday.
Tander - the 2007 Supercars winner - finished 10th and eighth fastest in the two practice sessions, both dominated by HMO Customer Racing’s Will Brown earlier in the day.
But the Melbourne Performance Centre driver zipped around the iconic Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit in his Audi RS3 in a best time of 2:04.3614 as he claimed pole by more than half a second.
Valvoline Racing GRM’s Michael Caruso (+0.501s) was second fastest, ahead of HMO Customer Racing pair Nathan Morcom (+0.662s) and Brown (+0.722s).
Renault Sport GRM’s James Moffat, who qualified fifth quickest, was more than one second adrift of Tander.
The result came as a surprise after Brown and Morcom went one-two in both of Friday’s practice sessions.
Reigning champion Brown finished more than eight tenths of a second in front of Morcom in the first practice session and although the margin was not as significant in the second, that both drivers missed out on a spot on the front row raised eyebrows.
Thursday was TCR’s first appearance at the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
Friday’s TCR race begins at 9.40am AEDT, with further races to follow on Saturday and Sunday.
The Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2020 runs in Melbourne until Sunday. Book online and save up to $10* on AusGP Park Pass tickets before prices increase at the gate.