V8 Supercars: Holden takes lead as rivalry runs hot

By Laine Clark

Defending champion Jamie Whincup claimed the provisional pole position during qualifying for the Bathurst 1000. Photo / Getty Images
Defending champion Jamie Whincup claimed the provisional pole position during qualifying for the Bathurst 1000. Photo / Getty Images

The welcome mat may have been thrown out for Mercedes and Nissan but the Bathurst 1000 again looks set to add another chapter to the great Holden-Ford rivalry judging by yesterday's qualifying.

Defending champion Jamie Whincup of Holden defied damage caused by clipping the wall to claim provisional pole (two minutes, 8.0 seconds) ahead of Ford threat Mark Winterbottom (2:08.06) and Holden's Jason Bright (2:08.22).

The top 10 grid spots will be determined today.

Fans have embraced Mercedes making their return to the mountain for the first time since 1994 while Nissan have not been sighted since they claimed back-to-back wins in 1992.

But it seems they won't have much to cheer about any time soon after Lee Holdsworth (12th) was Mercedes' leading driver in qualifying while Nissan was led by Michael Caruso (17th).

Four-time V8 champion and series leader Whincup is enjoying a resurgence in form after snapping a horror run of one win in 10 starts with victory at the traditional Bathurst warm-up, the recent Sandown 500.

He recovered brilliantly yesterday after clipping the wall during a frantic qualifying lap.

"This [provisional pole] doesn't mean a lot but we will take it," Whincup said. "I bent the car, forcing a set-up change so we did it pretty hard. This is satisfying."

Ahead of his 20th Bathurst start, five time champion Lowndes was sixth fastest.

But Dick Johnson Racing's Chaz Mostert and Mercedes driver Tim Slade could only look on helplessly as their respective crews tried to salvage their weekends.

Slade's Benz won't be ready until tomorrow after crashing out on Thursday.

But the jury is out over when Mostert's Ford will return after history repeated for all the wrong reasons at yesterday's practice.

DJR's two Fords this weekend have adopted Dick Johnson's famous "Green Meanie" colours to mark 30 years since he first donned his now trademark shade at the mountain.

Unfortunately, it also marks 30 years since Johnson crashed out in Bathurst qualifying, hitting trees at 150km/h, forcing his crew to frantically find a new vehicle to race with, barely 24 hours later.

DJR now also face a race against time after Mostert hit the wall sideways before careering front on into the concrete barrier, prompting a red flag - and plenty of headaches for Johnson.

Coincidentally DJR's 1983 replacement vehicle stood pride of place outside their pits yesterday.

One wag yelled out as Mostert's Falcon was wheeled in for repairs: "Is it too late to use the old girl behind you?".

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