Photo: Tickford Racing

Cameron Waters tops Bathurst qualifying to take provisional pole

Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters set the pace in a wet qualifying for the Bathurst 1000, beating the impressive Lee Holdsworth by a quarter of a second.

Waters, who is sharing his Ford Mustang this weekend with James Moffat, set a best time of 2m23.616 to emerge quickest in the 40-minute session which determined the running order for tomorrow’s final grid-setting Top 10 Shootout.

Last year’s race winner Chaz Mostert was third quickest for Walkinshaw Andretti United, with defending champion and points leader Shane van Gisbergen fourth.

But a notable absentee from the Top 10 Shootout is Shell V Power Racing’s Anton de Pasquale, who missed out on the cut in 11th.

Having affected the entire weekend so far this year, the rain did not abate for qualifying, which remained wet throughout.

However, a dry line did begin to appear, which made the middle portion of qualifying a crucial period to bag a representative lap-time.

R&J Batteries Racing’s André Heimgartner was the first driver to set a proper lap-time in his Holden Commodore, on a 2m29.612, but such were the improvements throughout the remainder of the session, that this effort would be beaten by a full six seconds by the end.

Mostert and Shell V Power Racing’s Will Davison – the latter setting the quickest time in FP3 – then traded places at the top of the standings before the halfway point, with Mostert cementing his place as the quickest on a 2m25.255.

Times inevitably got quicker as the dry line garnered more grip and Waters then produced a time of 2m24.687, some five-tenths faster than Mostert who replied with an effort that was a tenth quicker than van Gisbergen who briefly toppled Waters.

Mostert then became the first driver to dip below the 2m24 marker, but this was merely the catalyst for others to do the same. Waters’ time, which remained unbeatable for the last seven minutes was good enough for provisional pole.

The star performers of the session were undoubtedly in Holden machinery, with Holdsworth – who took victory last year alongside Mostert – going second fastest in the closing stages, just 0.212s slower than Waters.

Marking his return to the Supercars championship was Kiwi driver Richie Stanaway, sharing an Erebus Holden with four-time Bathurst winner Greg Murphy, who went fifth fastest in the session and brilliantly progressed to the Shootout.

A number of drivers made a late effort to improve their times by pitting for fresh wet tyres, but nobody could get close to Waters in the final minutes.

Any chance of a late flurry of quick times were then extinguished for good as Macauley Jones brought out the yellow flags with a minute left on the clock at the Dipper, after being turned around by van Gisbergen.

Jones’ Wet & Forget Holden suffered a heavy impact with the barrier, causing significant left-rear damage to his car.

Next up is the fifth practice session, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 10:20 local time (01:20 CET), while the Top 10 Shootout will be run at 17:05 local time (08:05 CET).