New Zealander Scott McLaughlin continues his inexorable march towards setting a Supercars' pole record yet again.
The Shell V Power racer left it to the last minute in the final qualifying session to knock teammate Fabian Coulthard of the top sport setting a Sydney Motorsport Park track record along the way.
Qualifying for round 10 of the 2018 series saw the reintroduction of the three-part challenge. The top 10 drivers in combined practice will skip the first qualifying phase earning a direct path to qualifying two.
In qualifying one drivers who finished 11th to 26th in the applicable practice standings hit the track for 10 minutes.
From that group of 16, the fastest six progress to qualifying 2, while the others fill positions 17th to 26th on the race grid. In qualifying two he top 10 drivers from practice join the action, with the fastest six from qualifying one.
From the times set in this 10-minute segment, the top 10 progress to qualifying three, while the others fill positions 11th to 16th on the grid. In qualifying three the top 10 drivers from qualifying two fight it out for pole position, setting the first five rows of the grid in the process.
Got it? I hope so as it's pretty much like Formula One and MotoGP.
"They [his team] gave me a great car and managed the tyres really well so I was able to put a fast lap together at the end," said McLaughlin afterwards.
He didn't start the final stanza of qualifying dominating the proceedings, that was left to Coulthard. The rest of field struggled to match the pace of the DJR Team Penske cars with Coulthard in good form. You just felt though, that McLaughlin had a little something left in the tank and he proved he did.
"It was a little bit of a pressure lap. I'm stoked for everyone here. The car was awesome and it was a tough qualifying session. I'm still getting used to those three-stage ones [qualifying format] but I think they are great for the fans. It is so good to see so many people here for the night race."
Teams will be walking a fine line in how they set their respective cars up. Qualifying was played out during late afternoon, but things will change when the racing starts when it's fully dark where the ambient temperature and track temperature will drop considerable. McLaughlin was not that concerned surprisingly enough.
"During practice Friday night it was pretty wild and everything seemed so much faster and a bit crazy. I was back in my normal habitat today so things felt a bit more comfortable. I knew where I needed to be and I could see more marks. It's definitely tougher in the dark trying to find your marks.
"Racing at night is a bit more difficult for the engine guys and we had to change a few things last night around drivability. Chassis-wise though, it's close to what it's light during the day.
"The only thing that might be different is coming into pit lane if it's a bit damp but other than that it should be okay," said McLaughlin.