After a slow start to the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 weekend in Practice 1, Shell V-Power Racing Team drivers Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard switched gears for Practice 2 to finish first (McLaughlin) and second (Coulthard) for the session at the second round of the Australia Supercars Championship.
The unique qualifying format used this weekend saw the cars take to the track for two rapid-fire 10-minute sessions this afternoon, with a 10-minute break in-between.
The first session saw all cars roll out and immediately look to set their fastest time, as the near two-minute lap time is not usually conducive to a second flying lap in such a short session.
McLaughlin set the timing boards alight with a lap record time, whilst teammate Coulthard did similar to slot into p2 also under lap record time to claim a Shell V-Power front-row lockout for Race 3 of the 2019 season.
“That’s a really good start,’ commented McLaughlin. “I feel like Albert Park is one of the hardest sessions of the year, as you get one lap, and you don’t have a lot of tyres, so it’s very satisfying to get a couple of poles.
“The team have worked hard back at the shop following Adelaide, knowing that we had a tough weekend ahead with four qualifying sessions and four races this weekend. Fabian is really strong here too, and it’s great to have him starting on the front row alongside me tomorrow.”
Qualifying for Race 4 ran similarly, in that all cars immediately looked to set a fast lap. Once again it was McLaughlin on top, however Coulthard was p10 due to a minor error on his flyer. He then had to push on with a fast in-lap, grab fresh tyres and run a very fast out-lap, taking a lot of life out of the tyres in the process. He made the control line with just three-seconds to spare and went on to improve his time and jump up to a fifth place start for Race 4.
“It wasn’t too bad at all,” commented Coulthard. “There was a big difference in balance between qualifying one and two, and the prep for that final lap wasn’t the best. I had to push very hard to get to the line, and got there with three-seconds to spare, so that was always going to hurt the lap time. So I think to move up and gain some spots is definitely positive, and we’ll look at everything tonight and see what we come up with for tomorrow.”
McLaughlin’s series rival Shane van Gisbergen qualified fifth and 11th.
“It was a shame we missed the first sessions with a few little problems that we had but the crew did a good job to fixing them in time for the next session,” said van Gisbergen. “The second session was awesome and we tried to do as many laps as possible. The first qualifying was good, the car was nice and then the next one I made a mistake but luckily that race is only for 50 points so hopefully we can improve in the qualifying and race tomorrow.”