The two championship protagonists will start from the front row for this afternoon's race at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint.

Championship leader Whincup has qualified fastest for the 200km race at Pukekohe Park Raceway. The Red Bull Holden Racing driver was narrowly faster than his Kiwi title rival Scott McLaughlin, who will start alongside him.

The Prodrive Racing Fords of Chaz Mostert and Mark Winterbottom will share the second row with teammate Cam Waters and Tim Slade on the third row.

Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Fabian Coulthard will start seventh and eighth respectively.

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Whincup and McLaughlin are in a two-horse fight for the title although Coulthard, van Gisbergen and Mostert could all come into calculations should the leading two cars have a poor result.

The 70-lap race is set to start at 4.10pm.