Phillip Island Supercars: McLaughlin leads all-Penske front row

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Phillip Island Supercars: McLaughlin leads all-Penske front row
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Apr 21, 2018, 2:41 AM

DJR Team Penske dominated Saturday qualifying at Phillip Island, Scott McLaughlin taking his fifth consecutive pole at the circuit ahead of teammate Fabian Coulthard.

Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering
Fabian Coulthard, DJR Team Penske Ford
Chaz Mostert, Tickford Racing
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

McLaughlin ran a top-heavy programme, looking to grab pole in the first part of the session. His first run put him fastest with a 1m29.799s, before a second run mid-way through the session improved his benchmark to a 1m29.505s.

The Kiwi then opted to park his Penske Ford for the rest of the session, sitting out the final seven and a half minutes in a bid to save a set of green tyres for this afternoon's race.

Fabian Coulthard did likewise, settling into second with a 1m29.697s seconds before McLaughlin's time before also jumping out of the car for the final part of the session.

It was a gamble that paid off, nobody finding enough on their final run to knock the Penske pair off of the front row, which meant a fifth consecutive Island pole for McLaughlin.

"“For the whole team, to lock out the front-row is a big thing at a track that we know we like,” said McLaughlin.

“We’ve got to do it in the race now. We got plenty of poles last year, but we need to convert them now.

“I just love this circuit,” he added. “It’s a really cool track where I can flow the car and really learnt my driving style I’ve learnt over the years.”

The second row was all Red Bull Holden, Jamie Whincup leading Shane van Gisbergen with times set early in the session. Their teammate Craig Lowndes was one of the few drivers to improve on his final run, the veteran going fifth fastest.

Rick Kelly, who this afternoon will make his 500th Supercars start, was sixth quickest ahead of David Reynolds, while Chaz Mostert was the best of the Tickford Fords in eighth.

Rookie Anton De Pasquale did well to qualify ninth, and will share the fifth row with Tickford's Cam Waters.

Neither of the Walkinshaw Commodores made the Top 10, Scott Pye and James Courtney just 16th and 17th respectively.

Nissan's Michael Caruso will start today's race from the very back of the grid, having needed to nurse his car back to the pits five minutes in when the oil pressure light came on. The slow-moving Nissan led to the race director briefly red-flagging the session, which meant he wasn't allowed to go back out on track.

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