Motorsport: Whincup spoils Ford's big day

By Laine Clark

Jamie Whincup on his way to his first pole position at Mount Panorama. Photo / Getty Images
Jamie Whincup on his way to his first pole position at Mount Panorama. Photo / Getty Images

Only something special was going to dampen Ford fans' spirits at Bathurst 1000 top-10 qualifying after the iconic manufacturer confirmed it would re-commit to the V8 Supercars championship next year.

But Holden's Jamie Whincup promptly provided it, completing a scorching lap as the last car out in qualifying to clock two minutes and 7.88 seconds and claim pole for today's Great Race.

Whincup may be the defending champion, a four-time Bathurst winner and the series leader but remarkably, it was his first pole at the mountain. The four-time V8 champion notched the 50th pole of his career - becoming the only active driver to boast the honour.

"I can die now knowing I have achieved a pole position at Bathurst," Whincup said. "But pay day is [today]."

All the momentum had been behind Ford after receiving the good news that they still had a V8 future from next year.

A dark cloud loomed after the manufacturer announced in May it would cease operating in Australia by 2016 and retire the Falcon name.

It appeared the great Ford-Holden Australian motorsport rivalry was on borrowed time - until yesterday's stunning announcement just minutes before the Bathurst 1000 top 10 qualifying.

And Ford driver Mark Winterbottom kept the Blue Oval fans smiling when he clocked 2m 08.07s to top the timesheets with just Whincup to come.

But Whincup showed why many believe he will be known as a V8 great by launching his Commodore around the tight Mount Panorama course to clinch pole position.

Third fastest was Holden veteran Jason Bright (2m 08.27s) who just pipped flying Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen (2m 08.28s).

Holden's five-time Bathurst champion Craig Lowndes - set to contest his 20th Bathurst and 500th touring car/V8 race - was sixth fastest for today's 161-lap epic.

- AAP

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