Two years ago Chaz Mostert scored his first pole at Mount Panorama. His second was much, much better.
In 2019 Mostert started the Bathurst 1000 second alongside Scott McLaughlin, who had shattered the lap record. But weeks after the session McLaughlin’s motor was found be in breach of the technical regulations, so he was excluded from qualifying and Mostert was awarded pole retrospectively.
Not this time. In the single-car top 10 Shootout, the Walkinshaw/Andretti/United Holden driver clocked 2m03.3736s to beat the field by a convincing 0.29s. That erased McLaughlin’s time from the “unofficial” record book and better yet, he beat Anton De Pasquale, who has replaced McLaughlin in the Shell/Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang.
“When I heard the times coming down I thought, ‘Wow, that was fast!’” Mostert said, whose recent results were up and down in the four consecutive rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park.
— Supercars (@supercars) December 4, 2021
“It’s good to have some clean track for the race. We did it pretty hard for four weeks.”
The lap included a brush with the wall at Forrest’s Elbow, which Mostert dismissed as the lap being “a little bit too good so I though that I should scratch it up for the boys!”
De Pasquale had to settle for second after taking 11 poles through the season.
“The lap was right, had an average first sector and then the car hooked up and it was all right. Fun laps and the track hooks in really well, once I saw some 2:03s times, I knew I had to strap up and have a dip, otherwise I would’ve been left behind.”
It was very close. Cam Waters was barely 0.02s behind “ADP” in the Tickford/Monster Energy Ford, which touched the wall on the climb up the Mountain and arrived at Forrest’s Elbow crossed up like the Sprintcar Waters races in the off-season.
The Erebus Motorsport Holden Commodores were fourth and fifth fastest, but that is not where they will start. Brodie Kostecki finally sorted the bottom third of the circuit in his Boost Mobile-backed entry, which he described as “a lot better than yesterday. The car is really strong across the top, we just haven’t executed until today.”
Teammate Will Brown, who topped Friday’s provisional qualifying session, lost time early on his lap, as did all the early drivers in the late-afternoon session. But after the session the doors on both cars were found to be below the minimum weight, so Kostecki will start from ninth and Brown 10th, respectively.
Tim Slade was a strong sixth fastest in the CoolDrive Ford, a great result for the single-car team which consists of just five full-time staff. Slade, who will share the drive Sunday with co-owner Tim Blanchard, rued losing track time in the final practice session before the shoot-out.
Seventh is far from where defending race winner Shane van Gisbergen expected to be. Both Red Bull/Ampol Holdens have been out of sorts, co-driver Garth Tander surfing the car over a sandtrap at speed on Saturday morning while the team’s other Jamie Whincup/Craig Lowndes entry has been bugged by a hard-to-find vibration.
Van Gisbergen left nothing on the table, twice rubbing walls during his lap and even tweaking a wrist on one of the scrapes.
Will Davison will line up eighth in the second Shell/DJR Ford, which he will share Sunday with brother Alex, while Nick Percat took ninth place in the Brad Jones Racing Holden ahead of Jack Le Brocq in the Tickford Ford.
Mostert appears to be the favourite for Sunday’s 161-lap race. The No. 25 Holden had been top three or better in all the practice and qualifying sessions and co-driver Lee Holdsworth has been almost exactly as fast as Mostert in his sessions.
The championship-dominating Red Bull Holdens will start further back than expected, but feature strong driving combinations, as do a number of the Ford teams.
With fine but cool weather predicted, a fast race looks likely when the lights go green at 12:15pm Sunday, local time.
Shootout qualifying results:
1 Chaz Mostert (Aus), WAU/Appliances Online Holden, 2m03.3736s
2 Anton De Pasquale (Aus), DJR/Shell Ford, 2m03.6634s
3 Cameron Waters (Aus), Tickford/Monster Energy Ford, 2m03.6864s
4 Tim Slade (Aus), Blanchard/CoolDrive Ford, 2m04.0508s
5 Shane van Gisbergen (NZ), Red Bull/Ampol Holden, 2m04.3648s
6 Will Davison (Aus), DJR/Shell Ford, 2m04.7787s
7 Nick Percat (Aus), R&J Batteries/BJR Holden, 2m04.8988s
8 Jack Le Brocq (Aus), Tickford/Truck Assist Ford, 2m05.3133s
DQ Brodie Kostecki (Aus), Erebus/Boost Mobile Holden, 2m03.7733s
DQ Will Brown (Aus), Erebus/Shaw & Partners Holden, 2m03.9921s