Jamie Whincup will start from pole position in Saturday’s final qualifying race for the Sandown 500 after co-driver Paul Dumbrell stole a march on his V8 Supercars rivals.
In the first of two 20-lap races to decide the grid for Sunday’s endurance race, the co-drivers took to the Melbourne circuit for an incident-packed session.
Ford pair Cameron Waters and Steve Owen started from the front of the grid but found themselves behind Dumbrell within 90 seconds.
After a perfect take-off, Waters, 21, fell away on the first lap after a mistimed breaking effort.
Dumbrell completed a pass of Owen in the next lap and was never headed, taking a seven-second victory that puts car No.1 in the box seat.
Watching his co-driver take control, Whincup said it was “a perfect start to a season of endurance”.
“He’s doing a bloody good job … hopefully the car’s good and it’s not just him driving.”
The pair claimed an emphatic race victory from pole position in 2014 and will back themselves to repeat the effort should Whincup claim pole in Saturday’s final qualifying session for regular series drivers.
Owen finished second to give Mark Winterbottom a place on the front row of the grid, with Waters’ third-placed finish putting Chaz Mostert’s car No.6 on the second row.
Mostert absolved his young co-driver of any blame for his mistake.
“On cold tyres, it’s very easy to do, I’ve done it,” he said.
“Car one has a bit of pace on us at the moment so we’ll work on it and fix it up.”
Joining Mostert on the second row will be the Falcon of David Reynolds after Dean Canto overtook Jonathan Webb with just a few turns remaining.
The race’s biggest incident came on lap eight, with Alexander Premat nudging Andrew Jones on the inside and turning both cars around.
Race officials ruled no further action for the clash, which stopped car No.8 from completing the session.
Russell Ingall was one of the session’s biggest improvers, leaping from 12th to sixth.
Two cars failed to finish the qualifying dash, the Nissan of David Russell and Jones.