Nissan, Holden score surprise V8 poles

Holden’s James Courtney and Nissan driver Rick Kelly have shocked the V8 Supercars field by securing pole position for each of Saturday’s two races in Darwin.

Courtney denied Ford a seventh straight pole by qualifying fastest for the opening 21-lap sprint in a surprise turnaround from his poor last outing at Winton.

Kelly then went on to post a record-breaking lap on the freshly resurfaced Hidden Valley track in the second session, marking his first front-row start since Sandown 2011.

It continued Nissan’s recent strong form, having finished on the podium twice in Winton.

“I tell you what, we didn’t expect pole here at Darwin,” said the 32-year-old.

“I’m pretty excited, I’m pumped, but we’ve still got a race to come.”

His time of 1min 6.292secs – achieved on the faster, soft tyre compound – smashed the previous qualifying lap record set by Holden’s Jason Bright back in 2002.

Courtney also clocked inside that time, but on the generally slower, harder rubber.

Ford’s Chaz Mostert came agonisingly close to a history-making fifth consecutive pole position and No.7 in a row for Prodrive Racing Australia, qualifying second for race one and third for race two.

Championship leader Mark Winterbottom didn’t fare too well and will start from sixth and 10th.

It was a similar story for his chief title rival Craig Lowndes of Holden, who was ninth and fifth fastest.

His Red Bull Racing teammate and defending champion Jamie Whincup had mixed fortunes, finishing third in the opening qualifying session but a lowly 17th in the second.

The first of Saturday’s two sprints starts at 2.55pm (AEST).

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