Normal service was resumed in the V8 Supercar Championship Series with reigning champion Jamie Whincup taking up where he left off last year by clinching pole position for the season-opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
Whincup charged into P1 with a scorching 1min 21.8123secs lap to edge out TeamVodafone team-mate Craig Lowndes in the Top Ten Shootout, with Holden Racing Team star Garth Tander third quickest around the former Australian Grand Prix circuit.
Whincup has produced a near duplicate of his break-through Clipsal 500 performance from last year, when he topped the timesheets in every session across the weekend, but the 2008 series champion remains guarded about whether he can achieve the same level of dominance over the next two days.
“The longer the race, the less pole means, so we just need to make sure we put all our focus on tomorrow,” Whincup said, “I don't want to sit here and sound likes an idiot and say there's more to come - we might make the car feel better, but make it slower.
“It just doesn't feel right [at the moment] and whether that's not right because it's different or whether it's not right because we can still go faster, we're yet to see.”
A typically upbeat Lowndes was satisfied with his work, despite having been promoted from fourth by discretions elsewhere, acknowledging that he expects to get even better once the green lights come on on raceday.
“Qualifying has never been my strong point,” he admitted, "To get one lap just right is always difficult. It's great to have both our cars up front, but 78 laps is more than one lap."
Tander could have split the red-and-silver machines, but locked his brakes at the hairpin and was left to reflect on a missed opportunity to have possibly muscled his way onto the front row.
“The lap itself was okay,” the 2007 champion said, “but, at the hairpin, I locked the rears, then locked the inside front and that made me run wide. However, I don't think it would have been good enough for pole.