After a qualifying session that saw cars covered by hundredths of a second, few would have expected anything other than a similar margin to determine who would start from pole position after Bathurst’s one-lap Top 10 Shootout.
How wrong we all were.
Cam Waters was in a class of his own in the single-car session and his margin over the second-placed driver in the Saturday afternoon session was a startling 0.44s. As if to underline how dominant Waters was, that second-placed driver was Scott McLaughlin, the three-time Supercars champion, the defending Bathurst 1000 winner and the sport’s undisputed king of the single lap.
In a word Waters, 26, smoked them. His time of 2m03.5592s was the fastest-ever lap of the 3.8-mile Mount Panorama circuit, and comfortably sealed his first pole at the race, and the fifth of his Supercars career.
And to top it all, during the lap he made a mistake at The Dipper that could have sent his Tickford Racing/Monster Energy Ford Mustang into a concrete wall.
“That was absolutely awesome,” he gasped after the run, “I made a mistake at The Dipper but who cares? I knew we were going to go a fair bit quicker; I gave it everything.
“I’m surprised I stopped the thing — it was red [a brake lock warning light] on my dash.”
One quick lap across the Mountain! 👊
— Supercars (@supercars) October 17, 2020
Waters has a great chance to win the race, which would be some bonus for his co-driver Will Davison, who started the year as a full-time Supercars driver. But his sponsor withdrew from the series in May during the championship’s COVID lockdown, leaving him without a seat until Tickford Racing recruited him to back up Waters.
From second on the grid, McLaughlin has a great chance to defend the race win he scored a year ago, before he heads to St. Petersburg for his IndyCar debut and possibly, a career in the U.S.
“We made a big change in the car, and it was in the right direction,” he said. “That’s me [100 percent effort] and we’ll get after them tomorrow.”
Starting third will be Chaz Mostert in the Walkinshaw Andretti United/Appliances Online Holden. The 2014 winner was in great form; he went 0.5s quicker in the single lap than he managed in qualifying, despite a wild oversteering moment at the 120mph McPhillamy Bend.
“I don’t even remember it,” he shrugged later.
Sunday’s race presents an interesting opportunity for Mostert, who won the 2014 race from last on the grid. His co-driver Warren Luff is one of the best wet-weather drivers in Supercars, and with Sunday’s race expected to be run on a wet track, the 44-year-old could be an ace up Mostert’s sleeve.
Fourth fastest was Nick Percat, who was first out in the Shootout and who did his fastest-ever lap (and that of his Brad Jones Racing team) in the R&J Batteries Holden. But after the session ended officials found that the No. 8 entry was underweight and disqualified it from the session. As a result Percat and co-driver Thomas Randle — who showed he is in fine form when he won Saturday’s Super 2 series race for older model Supercars — will start from 10th on the grid.
It was not a great Shootout for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team. After being second fastest on Friday Shane van Gisbergen made an error at the bottom of the circuit, missing the apex at The Chase to set the fifth-fastest time, while teammate Jamie Whincup will start 10th after running off the road at the same corner.
Lee Holdsworth, who was fastest of the 25 drivers on Friday, dropped to sixth in the Shootout in the Tickford Racing/Truck Assist Ford Mustang, ahead of Anton De Pasquale in the Penrite Oils/Erebus Motorsport Holden.
McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard will start from eighth ahead of James Courtney, the highlight of whose day would have been a new contract for 2022 with Tickford Racing and sponsor Boost Mobile.
With wild weather likely, the start time of the race has been brought forward to 11 a.m. Eastern Australia Summer Time, with the 1000km race scheduled to run over 161 laps.
Top 10 Shootout results:
Pos Driver Team/Sponsor Car Split 1 Split 2 Lap Time
1. Cameron Waters (Aus), Tickford/Monster Energy Ford, 50.6866s 1m23.1276s 2m03.5592s
2. Scott McLaughlin (NZ), DJR Penske/Shell V-Power Ford, 50.7731s 1m23.2894s 2m04.0021s
3. Chaz Mostert (Aus), WAU/Appliances Online Holden, 50.8037s 1m23.5362s 2m04.0100s
4. Shane van Gisbergen (NZ), Red Bull HRT Holden, 50.7288s 1m23.3093s 2m04.4511s
5. Lee Holdsworth (Aus), Tickford Truck Assist Ford, 51.0409s 1m23.9579 2m04.6765s
6. Anton De Pasquale (Aus), Erebus/Penrite Oils Holden, 50.9687s 1m23.9721s 2m04.7688s
7. Fabian Coulthard (NZ), DJR Penske/Shell V-Power Ford, 51.1332s 1m24.1239s 2m04.8534s
8. James Courtney (Aus), Tickford/Boost Mobile Ford, 51.2470s 1m24.5854s 2m05.3549s
9. Jamie Whincup (Aus), Red Bull HRT Holden, 50.8322s 1m23.6232s 2m06.3941s
DQ Nick Percat (Aus) ,Brad Jones Racing/R&J Batteries Holden, 50.9075s 1m23.6295s 2m04.2474s