Photo: Supercars

McLaughlin storms to Townsville pole after sweeping qualifying

Supercars championship leader Scott McLaughlin is in the box seat ahead of today’s first 39 lap race of the weekend in Townsville after going to the top of the timesheets across all three qualifying sessions.

The DJR Team Penske driver ended up going quicker in the grid-setting shootout than he had in qualifying to take his 71st career pole position, managing to complete the set after being the fastest driver in both qualifying sessions before the shootout began.

Carrying on from the theme of practice, pre-shootout qualifying was incredibly tight though it was McLaughlin who topped both sessions heading to the top ten run-offs, edging out practice two’s fastest runner Cam Waters by just 0.003 of a second.

The gap between the DJR Team Penske and Tickford Mustangs was minimal, trading quickest sectors across the lap as the Erebus of Anton de Pasquale got himself into the mix by pipping Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup to third in the first ten-minute outing.

McLaughlin again set the fastest lap for provisional pole ahead of the shootout but still only led the way by one-hundredth of a second from Whincup with van Gisbergen keeping them close company.

van Gisbergen’s lap came late in the session and out of sequence with those who had set their times earlier on, dragging Chaz Mostert with him to position four as the Walkinshaw Andretti United only just got ahead of de Pasquale.

McLaughlin’s shootout lap of 1:12.0144 was two-tenths clear of van Gisbergen in second, the biggest margin of the day so far as Waters was able to squeeze in to third ahead of de Pasquale.

Mostert starts fifth after going quicker than Todd Hazelwood, the Brad Jones Racing driver going fastest early in the session but dropping down the order, still competing a faster lap than Whincup, team-mate Nick Percat, the Tickford car of Jack Le Brocq and Erebus’ David Reynolds.

Race 22 for the championship starts at 1540 local time, almost two hours after the end of qualifying with the fast Kiwi pairing looking to lead the pack into the opening corners.