Scott McLaughlin has confirmed he is the man to beat, producing a great qualifying run.
Scott McLaughlin has confirmed he is the man to beat, producing a great qualifying run.

Masterful McLaughlin breaks rivals' hearts again

NOT even the rain can slow Scott McLaughlin's charge.

The Ford ace again laid down the gauntlet to his rivals by claiming provisional pole for the Bathurst 1000 in a rain-marred qualifying session at Mount Panorama on Friday afternoon.

In slick conditions after rain rolled in over the mountain, the defending Supercars champion continued to set the pace to top qualifying and book a ticket to the top-10 shootout ahead of fellow Mustang driver Chaz Mostert, Holden rival Shane van Gisbergen, Will Davison and Tim Slade.

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Nick Percat, Jamie Whincup, Cameron Waters, Mark Winterbottom and Anton De Pasquale also booked themselves a start in Saturday afternoon's shootout.

It was a masterful performance from series leader McLaughlin in the wet and followed another record-breaking day when he again lowered the lap record during practice around Mount Panorama.

McLaughlin's teammate Fabian Coulthard and 2017 Bathurst champion David Reynolds were the major casualties from the wet qualifying session and missed top-10 shootout spots.

Coulthard will start from 16th on the grid, while Reynolds, whose team worked through the night to repair his car after co-driver Luke Youlden's Thursday smash, will start from 22nd on the grid.

Scott McLaughlin is going to be awfully hard to stop on Sunday.
Scott McLaughlin is going to be awfully hard to stop on Sunday.

McLaughlin admitted he had been nervous ahead of the qualifying session in the rain.

"I was so nervous before that session because we had such a good car and this is probably the only wet session that we have," he said.

"I'm really proud. We have been struggling with our wet car and to come out and have an awesome wet car from the start, I'm so stoked.

"I want to be at the end of the shootout when the track is a little bit colder and a little bit faster so I was pushing to get those first five spots, but obviously Sunday is the one that we need to worry about."

Already boasting a lead of 598 points in the Supercars championship, McLaughlin is aiming for his first Bathurst crown this year.