DJR Team Penske driver Scott Pye and comeback kid Chaz Mostert split the pole positions from today’s two qualifying sessions at the Clipsal 500.
Pye, who had never been on pole before, wasn’t all that quick on his first ‘banker’ run in the all-soft-tyre Q1, sitting way down in 18th as the entirety of the field took shelter in pit-lane mid-way through the 10-minute session.
But Pye turned things up big-time on his second run, going fastest with a 1m20.016s right at the flag.
Triple Eight’s Jamie Whincup and practice pace-setter Scott McLaughlin both had the chance to knock Pye off seconds later, but both fell just short, Whincup by 0.09s, and McLaughlin by just over a tenth.
“It’s a big relief,” said Pye. “That podium at Pukekohe [last year] was the start of something good. The guys have worked so hard; everyone deserves that.”
Mclaughlin, meanwhile, was left to rue a small mistake on his crucial final lap.
“I sprayed it,” he said. “I clipped a little bit too much kerb at Turn 11, it put me off line. Unfortunately that’s how it is.”
Reigning champion Mark Winterbottom will start Race 1 from fourth, ahead of James Courtney and Shane van Gisbergen.
Mostert completes perfect comeback
In the all-hard-tyre Q2, Prodrive’s Chaz Mostert was the star of the show. In a car for the first time on a race weekend since his massive crash at Bathurst last year, Mostert put in a stunning second run to pip Whincup to the Race 2 pole by just 0.08s.
Mostert had been 11th fastest in Q1.
“I didn’t really see that coming this weekend,” said Mostert.
“I just wanted to ease back into it. It’s fantastic to come back and still be up the pointy end.”
Despite the switch from soft tyres to hards, there were plenty of familiar names at the top after the second 10-minute session. Behind Mostert and Whincup, McLaughlin bagged his second third place ahead of Courtney.
Shane van Gisbergen was fifth fastest, ahead of Nissan’s Michael Caruso and Race 1 pole-sitter Pye.