NOT even a sticking gear shifter prevented Jamie Whincup from storming to his fourth pole position for the season in a blinding qualifying run for the V8 Supercars Coffee Club Challenge at the Gold Coast Indy.
Whincup will launch from the prime starting spot in the opening 27-lap race around the Surfers Paradise street track tomorrow (Saturday).
The TeamVodafone driver put his Ford in the garage during the opening qualifying session where his team frantically replaced the spare gear selector.
It made little difference, as Whincup continued to be hampered by the problem where the sequential shifter would not spring back into place after he picked a gear.
“We had a little bit of a mishap through the session with a bit of a gearbox issue,” Whincup said.
“A bit of bush mechanic work with a bit of elastic to fix all that up and the car was great.”
It could have resulted in Whincup being shuffled down the starting order but the plucky 25-year-old took it all in his stride to heap pressure on Holden rival Garth Tander who claimed second spot.
But Tander (Holden Racing Team) was 0.7sec in arrears of Whincup’s pole time, which is a massive gap to find overnight before the opening race laps are fired.
Paul Dumbrell landed the biggest surprise of the day by steering his Autobarn Holden into third fastest with Mark Winterbottom to start from fourth.
Whincup’s effort was the first time a Ford has landed the coveted starting berth at Indy since 1999 when the V8 Supercars were a non-championship act.
Significantly, Whincup has assured that fans will get an edge-of-their-seats ride by promising not to button off and play the conservative game during the weekend’s three 27-lap races.
“I’m just going to go out there and race as hard as I can,” Whincup said.
“If it means I end up in the wall or a gravel trap then so be it.
“But hopefully I will get to the end of the year and look in the mirror and say I’ve done the best job I could have.”
On the other hand Tander, the Indy round champion from last year during his maiden Championship-winning year, has to find answers to the HRT Commodore’s lack of flying lap pace.
“As each race goes by there is less and less chance to close the (points) gap but we’ll just try to get to the front tomorrow and do the best we can do,” Tander said.
“There’s a fair chunk of time we need to find before tomorrow so we have a long night ahead of us.”
Mark Skaife was never a factor in qualifying, ending up in 16th position in the second Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Qualifying Top 10:
Jamie Whincup Falcon 1:49.1828
Garth Tander Commodore 1:49.8322
Paul Dumbrell Commodore 1:49.8886
Mark Winterbottom Falcon 1:50.2023
Craig Lowndes Falcon 1:50.2868
Russell Ingall Commodore 1:50.4190
Will Davison Falcon 1:50.42.30
Todd Kelly Commodore 1:50.4904
Rick Kelly Commodore 1:50.5544
James Courtney Falcon 1:50.5860
Article: Bigpond Sport
Picture: Ryan Schembri