Bathurst 2019: Scott McLaughlin braves conditions to qualify quickest

Scott McLaughlin during qualifying for the Bathurst 1000.
Scott McLaughlin during qualifying for the Bathurst 1000. Photo credit: Image: Getty

Supercars series leader Scott McLaughlin has claimed provisional pole for Sunday's Bathurst 1000 at a rain-soaked Mount Panorama.

McLaughlin braved the wet conditions to top the time sheets by clocking two minutes, 27.64 seconds ahead of fellow Ford driver Chaz Mostert and Holden's Shane van Gisbergen.

Pole position will be determined by the top 10 shootout on Saturday afternoon.

McLaughlin's time was almost 30 seconds slower than the new lap record that he set in Friday's second practice session held under clear skies - a blistering 2:03.48.

But the defending series champion was just thankful of getting around the track unscathed after enduring the treacherous qualifying conditions.

"It was pretty skatey out there. I was pretty nervous because our car had not been good on the wet in the past," McLaughlin said.

"I am not sure what is more impressive that (time in the wet) or my record - but I would much prefer the dry (conditions)."

Former Bathurst champion Mostert was amazed that no one slid off during the 40 minute qualifying session which remarkably did not feature one red flag.

But is now bracing himself for more wet weather which is forecast for Saturday's shootout.

"If it is wet tomorrow then it will be super tough," Mostert said.

Bathurst 2019: Scott McLaughlin braves conditions to qualify quickest

"I had 10 to 12 (scary) moments then. But it was a world class effort from the grid to keep that session going (with no red flags)."

Holden star Jamie Whincup also impressed in the wet on Friday, surging up the time sheets late to be seventh fastest and snatch a last gasp shootout spot.

It was a shot in the arm for Whincup who crashed his Commodore during Friday's second practice session.

Four-time Bathurst winner Whincup hit the wall on top of the mountain after trying to avert Holden's Richie Stanaway who crashed just ahead of him.

It ensured some anxious moments for his Red Bull Racing team who furiously repaired the Commodore to ensure it was ready for qualifying.

Whincup is one of the hot favourites after recruiting seven-time Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes as his co-driver, reuniting again after claiming three straight Great Races from 2006.

But the man to catch will be McLaughlin who is desperate to claim a maiden Bathurst title.

The New Zealander has adopted a "win or bin it" approach at the mountain thanks to his 598-point championship lead.

The huge buffer means he can crash out in the next two rounds and still conceivably lead the series.

Holden star David Reynolds was among the big names to miss out on the shootout, finishing 22nd fastest.

The former Bathurst champion was not expected to feature on the track until qualifying after his co-driver Luke Youlden crashed their Commodore in Thursday's practice.

But his Penrite Racing team worked throughout the night to ensure Youlden was back behind the wheel in Friday morning's first practice session for co-drivers.

Meanwhile, IndyCar drivers and wildcard entries James Hinchcliffe and Alex Rossi will start their first Great Race on Sunday at second last on the 26-strong grid.

AAP.

 

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