ADELAIDE, South Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
After a “massive moment” during the ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout, Holden Racing Team star and defending Clipsal 500 champion James Courtney gathered his wits and put together a lap good enough to claim the pole for Sunday’s 250 km finale on the streets of Adelaide.
Courtney will start Race Three of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship from the top spot on the grid after posting a fast lap of 1:20.5396 seconds. He was the eighth of ten cars to take time and held his breath as Nissan pilot James Moffat and Round One fast qualifier Shane van Gisbergen failed to better his pole-winning mark.
“We’ve been working for this year,” said Courtney of his HRT crew. “Everything’s just gelling. It’s a great bunch of guys — we’re all working really well together. The car speed is there. We just have to make sure we maximize it today during the race but I’m massively pumped. To be on the pole is awesome.”
The pole, the eighth of Courtney’s V8SC career, almost never was after he came millimeters from stuffing his Holden Commodore into the Turn Eight wall.
“We had a massive moment through (turn) eight — I thought I might have to change my undies after that one — but I came through and had a big push,” said Courtney of his lap. “It went right to the wall and I lost a bit of time there. I was a bit nervous that the other guys might maximize on that but it’s just a great feeling and a great way to start the 250 kilometers today.”
Race Two winner Fabian Coulthard will grid up alongside Courtney on the front row after his lap of 1:20.5839 proved to be second-fastest of the ten Shootout cars. Coulthard also holds the V8 Supercars points lead going into Sunday’s Clipsal 500 finale.
Six-time champion Jamie Whincup nearly bit the wall in turn eight but slotted in third overall (1:20.6024), with his title rival Scott McLaughlin next to him in fourth (1:20.6073) at the wheel of his Volvo S60.
Moffat and van Gisbergen both had lap times that were shaping up to be pole-worthy in the first two sectors, but could not hang on in the final sector. The pair will start fifth and sixth, respectively, on the grid after being the fastest two cars in Round One qualifying.
Tim Slade was seventh, while Marcos Ambrose was eighth in his first Top Ten Shootout since 2005 at Phillip Island. On his cool-down lap, however, Ambrose bounced ever-so-slightly off one of the concrete barriers around the track — causing minor damage to the left side of his Shell Helix Ford FG X Falcon.
I was really quite flustered after the lap because I didn’t get through turn one well,” Ambrose explained. “I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing and got caught in the marbles… in the wrong gear, it wouldn’t turn! It’s not too damaged though, so now we’ll go out in the race and see what we can do.”
Garth Tander and Jason Bright round out the top ten in row five.
Race Three of the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship will go green at 3:25 p.m. local time (11:55 p.m. EST).
RESULTS: V8 Supercars Championship; ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout; Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit; Mar. 1, 2015
- James Courtney
- Fabian Coulthard
- Jamie Whincup
- Scott McLaughlin
- James Moffat
- Shane van Gisbergen
- Tim Slade
- Marcos Ambrose
- Garth Tander
- Jason Bright