PUKEKOHE, New Zealand — Qualifying for Saturday’s ITM Auckland Supersprint has been cancelled, with combined practice times from Friday’s sessions setting the grid. Cameron Waters will start pole for Saturday’s race.
“Obviously it’s a pretty weird way to get pole, but if it’s raining you want to be out of the mess,” Waters said. “I don’t know what to think. It’s so weird. If it’s wet like then it’s going to be chaos down that back straight because it’s so slippery. Hopefully the rain stops and it dries up a little bit, but we don’t really know what to do with the car or anything, it’s a bit of a guessing game I think.”
The day was wet and misty, and with practice on Friday being cloudy and windy, the weekend’s condition didn’t look to improve. The qualifying was delayed due to misty, foggy conditions.
Standing water was an issue as the cars took to the track for the 20-minute session. Shane Van Gisbergen did a bit of a burnout in order to warm the tires up. Jamie Whincup slid through the first corner, but he caught it.
Scott McLaughlin also went off heading into Turn two, but saved the car quickly. Van Gisbergen was 1.1 seconds ahead of teammate Whincup as the red flag came out with 16 minutes left in the session. The order read: Van Gisbergen, Whincup, Will Davison, Fabian Couldthard and Garth Tander rounded out the provisional top five. McLaughlin was languishing down in 11th, 4.5 seconds down on Van Gisbergen.
“It’s crazy, I don’t know what to do now or what they’ll do,” Van Gisbergen said. “The back straight is just too new on the surface and it’s just so shiny and slippery. I don’t really want to be out there on that stuff, it’s a bit of a joke.”
“It’s the same for everyone, I just hope the rain eases and we can have a safe race, even if it is wet, but that level’s just too much. I didn’t even get full throttle the whole lap, I’m not even looking at the times, it’s just stupid.”
After 20 minutes of red flags, the session had been cancelled, handing Waters the pole.
While Whincup will start second, he said if the track still had standing water on it come race time, the organizers should consider postponing the race.
“That’s the thing, it’s not the case of if the rain stops and we’re good to go, providing that the track out the back’s wet, it’s not fit for racing unfortunately,” Whincup said. “We’ll have to see what rolls, I don’t envy the boys upstairs [the stewards], they have a big call to make. Of course we want to go racing, we’re ready to go, but I think most of the mechanics, they want a night’s sleep tonight as well, so we just can’t afford to go out and tear cars up.”
“It’s a big balancing act, somebody has to make the call, and we respect whatever call they make.”
1. Cameron Waters
2. Jamie Whincup
3. Mark Winterbottom
4. Scott McLaughlin
5. Chaz Mostert
6. Shane Van Gisbergen
7. Fabian Coulthard
8. Tim Slade
9. David Reynolds
10. Craig Lowndes