Ford dominates the grid at Clipsal 500. Fabian Coulthard best of the Kiwis with fifth-fastest lap.
Champion V8 Supercar team, Vodafone 888, will start from the front row of the grid in this weekend’s season-opening Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide.
Reigning champion Jamie Whincup will start from pole with teammate Craig Lowndes alongside.
On actual times, the duo had been split by Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom who was second-fastest in the top-10 shootout. All are driving brand new Ford Falcon FG racers.
But officials ruled that Winterbottom had used too much kerb at Turn 4 on his fast lap and relegated him to ninth place.
Best of the Kiwis was Fabian Coulthard who starts his Paul Cruickshank Racing Falcon fifth, improving five places on his general qualifying time.
Jason Richards is the other New Zealander in the top 10, gridding his Brad Jones Racing Holden Commodore eighth. He had got into the top-10 shootout by setting the fourth fastest lap in qualifying.
Shane van Gisbergen was 12th in his Stone Brothers Racing Falcon, with Greg Murphy 18th in the Tasman Motorsport Holden Commodore.
Winterbottom’s teammate, NZ-born Steve Richards, starts from 11th in the Castrol FPR Falcon.
Garth Tander will start his HRT Holden Commodore from third, with Dick Johnson Racing’s new recruit, James Courtney, alongside him in a Falcon.
Winterbottom said he’d turned in deep at Turn 4, where officials said he used too much kerb, “because I was worried about turning, but the car turned better than I thought.
“I’m obviously very disappointed and I’m hoping (a review of the officials’ decision) will come out in my favour. As far as I’m concerned, we’re not ninth, we’re second fastest and ninth by default.”
But whatever the outcome, he’s buoyed by the fact that Adelaide offers plenty of overtaking opportunities and the races are long.
“It’s a lot easier to pass here than anywhere else. You can win from anywhere here because it’s such a long race.
“If one guy has a long fuel stop you can get from eighth to the lead so we’re not looking for a lot really.”
FPR team boss, Tim Edwards, said it was a good debut for the FG Falcon. “It’s a fantastic result for Ford. They introduced a brand new FG race car and it got the three fastest times. FPR has worked for two years developing that car and seeing that result makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
“We’re obviously a little bit disappointed by the penalty, which is under review. It seems it's alright to go over the kerbs on the exit but not the apex and we’ve queried that.”
V8 Supercar qualifying Top 10.
1. Jamie Whincup, 888, 1m 21.8123s.
2. Craig Lowndes, 888, +0.2545s.
3. Garth Tander, HRT, +0.3764s.
4. James Courtney, DJR, +0.5246s.
5. Fabian Coulthard, PCR, +0.5796s.
6. Paul Dumbrell, Walkinshaw Racing, +0.7013s.
7. Will Davison, HRT, +0.9162s.
8. Jason Richards, BJR, +3.6065s.
9. Mark Winterbottom.
10. Lee Holdsworth, Holden Commodore.