Craig Lowndes (left) and Jamie Whincup will start from fourth on the grid at Bathurst on Sunday. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Craig Lowndes (left) and Jamie Whincup will start from fourth on the grid at Bathurst on Sunday. Picture: Tim Hunter.

Whincup Holden out hope for Bathurst crown

HOLDEN hope Jamie Whincup remains confident he and co-driver Craig Lowndes can mount a challenge against the might of Scott McLaughlin's Mustang in Sunday's Bathurst 1000.

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team star will start from fourth on the grid for the Great Race behind a trio of Mustangs after McLaughlin set Mount Panorama alight again to claim pole position ahead of Tickford racing pair Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters in the top-10 shootout on Saturday.

Whincup's Triple Eight teammate Shane van Gisbergen, who is teaming with Garth Tander, will start from fifth on the grid.

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Whincup admitted the team's qualifying speed had been no match for the Mustangs at the front, but said the second row was a good place to be launching an assault in the 1000km race.

 

"We moved up spots, which is great. But we ended up six or seven tenths off there which is not ideal," Whincup said.

"So we will keep working on our qualy (speed) and finding pace, but front two rows that's a good starting spot.

"I think we are in with a chance for sure, it's a long day and our car is reasonable.

"It won't be the fastest car out there, but we should be there or thereabouts. (I'm) not under or over confident, we have got a chance like everyone else.

Jamie Whincup during Saturday’s practice session at Bathurst. Picture: AAP
Jamie Whincup during Saturday’s practice session at Bathurst. Picture: AAP

"We've got a chance like the top six or eight cars have. Now we've just got to focus on what we can do as a team and I'm happy that I've got Lowndesy in the car, we'll give him all the tools that he needs to do the best job that he can and hopefully we'll be there at the end at least."

Defending Supercars champion McLaughlin claimed his second Bathurst pole position, continuing the hot pace he has set since rolling his DJR Team Penske Ford out of the garage for first practice on Thursday.

Whincup said McLaughlin's pace was impressive, but one-lap qualifying was a different beast to 161 laps of combat in the biggest and longest race of the year.

"They're doing a lot of things right. It didn't seem like he was on the limit anywhere, the work's been done with his engineers to make the car really fast," the four-time Bathurst champion said.

"They deserve everything that is coming their way at the moment, they have got a real fast car.

Lowndes and Whincup are set on getting past Scott McLaughlin. Picture Rohan Kelly
Lowndes and Whincup are set on getting past Scott McLaughlin. Picture Rohan Kelly

"We will just work bloody hard to try and match that pace. But pace today is a lot different to pace (Sunday) afternoon. We'll see where we are at."

Whincup and Lowndes have reunited to form one of the strongest and most experienced combinations on the grid, 10 years after they last raced together. The pair claimed a famous hat-trick of wins for Triple Eight at Mount Panorama between 2006 and 2008.

Whincup, a seven-time Supercars champion, said last night he was unsure who would start the race.

"I'm happy to let Lowndesy start if he wants to, but we're not sure yet," he said.

Whincup added his car was "back to brand new" after he hit the wall at the top of the mountain in Friday practice after he was forced to swerve to avoid another incident involving Richie Stanaway.

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