Van Gisbergen clinches Supercars pole

Shane van Gisbergen is in prime position to wrap up the Supercars championship on Saturday after securing pole for the opening race of the Sydney 500.

The Holden star broke his own lap record – set in practice a day earlier – with a blistering one minute 26.627 second mark in qualifying.

Title rival and Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup was just 0.1 secs slower and will start the first 74-lap race alongside him on the front-row.

Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin qualified in third, ahead of Holden veterans Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander.

Van Gisbergen is 191 points ahead of Whincup in the series standings, with 300 points up for grabs over the weekend’s two races.

“Thanks to the team, we’re on the front row – it’s awesome,” he said.

The Kiwi has scored nine podium finishes in his last 13 races at Sydney Olympic Park and in each of the last eight races – including all of the enduros.

He is aiming to become the first New Zealand-born driver since Jim Richards in 1991 to win an Australian touring car title.

While van Gisbergen has never won a championship before, Whincup has won six since 2008.

Half of those were clinched at the season-ending event in Sydney

But the unrivalled champion doesn’t think his past successes at the street circuit gives him a notable advantage,

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“It’s good to have experience coming down to the last weekend at this place, but Shane’s been around long enough – he’s not a rookie.”

The pair have had almost a month to make peace after tensions boiled over in the penultimate round in Auckland.

Whincup spun his Kiwi teammate while dicing for second at Pukekohe Park, but has vowed not to repeat his mistakes.

“We’ll go there and race hard, race fair,” he declared.

‘”There’ll be nothing untoward.”

The round’s opening race starts at 3.45pm (AEDT).

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