Jamie Whincup may have missed out on the 2007 V8 Supercars title by a narrow margin, but he showed that he is determined to mount an assault on the new season by setting the pace almost throughout the opening day of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

On his way to claiming pole position, the 25-year old TeamVodafone driver recorded the quickest lap in both morning practice sessions, posting a new practice lap record with a time of 1min 21.3707secs - only to better that by four-hundredths of a second in qualifying as he headed fellow Ford runners James Courtney and Mark Winterbottom.

"It is a great result for the whole team," Whincup said, "We knew after the test day that the car was going to be quick, but I didn't expect to end up on pole at the first round of the championship. It is nice to be recognised as the fastest person on the day, but we can't get too excited, as there is still along way to go. Tomorrow we do 78 laps around this unforgiving circuit and, with pit-stops for fuel and tyres, it will be the best overall team on the day who greets the chequered flag first."

Courtney ended the third and decisive phase of qualifying just 0.0105secs shy of taking pole for the opening double-header, but the leading pair had a healthy three-tenths gap back to Winterbottom, the form man from the end of 2007. SBR driver Courtney had fans on the edge of their seats in the dying minutes of the qualifying session as he made a last lap dash for the number one position, but a gearbox problem on the final corner saw him drop a fraction of a second.

"The SBR cars have been really good straight out of the truck - we had a few small dramas to iron out but we've done that," he reported, "The last leg of qualifying went well, we were confident that we had a good car as we did good times in the two previous legs and had two sets of tyres to run in the third leg. In the last corner, though, we had a little drama with the gearbox but, apart from that, it was like clockwork. The JELD-WEN guys have done a fantastic job, we're in a great position for tomorrow and there is no reason why we can't take it away from the front row."

Leading Holden runner was reigning champion Garth Tander, who continued to show no drop in performance following his switch from HSV to HRT. Running Winterbottom close, he lapped the street circuit in 1min 21.6930secs to come up 0.36secs short of pole and the man he pipped to the 2007 crown.

"I'm not unhappy with fourth," Tander insisted, "A front row start would have been nice but, considering the balance of the car, it's not all bad. If we can improve it, I'm sure we'll be up there. The Fords seem to be riding the bumps and kerbs better than us, and it shows in the top ten which is weighted one way. I'm sure they were screaming blue murder when we had a good start last year, so we've just got to work harder and see how we go."

Ford, indeed, dominated the top ten, with only Lee Holdsworth and Tander's replacement at HSV, Paul Dumbrell, pushing their Commodores into the final shoot-out. Dumbrell, however, did not start the phase, and had to settle for tenth, while Holdsworth slotted into seventh, behind the Falcons of Will Davison and Whincup's 888 team-mate Craig Lowndes, but ahead of the similar cars of Jim Beam Racing's Steven Johnson and Ford Performance Racing's Steven Richards.

"It's a reasonable way to start the weekend - a good platform I guess," Dumbrell commented, "In qualifying two, I glanced the wall at turn eight, on the front end, so we just had to park it. It was a bit disappointing that I wasn't able to get out there to improve on my time, but I'll take tenth at this stage, I guess. It would have been good to knock a few of the Ford guys out of the top ten in the last qualifying session, but there's 78 laps to go on both Saturday and Sunday, so I am just looking forward to getting out there and amongst it."

Lowndes qualified sixth in his new chassis which makes its racing debut this weekend, and said the sister car to last years Bathurst winner was responding well to the changes the team were making.

"I am very happy with the progress the car was making today but, personally, I am a little bit disappointed in myself as there is definitely more speed in the car," the veteran explained, "Sixth is starting to become my regular starting spot but, in all honesty, to qualify anywhere in the top three rows is good here."

Among those to miss out on the top ten were Holden regulars Todd Kelly - on his first outing in Jack Daniel's colours - 2006 champion Rick Kelly and HRT boss Mark Skaife, who claimed eleventh, twelfth and 14th respectively.

"Qualifying has been very disappointing for me," Skaife admitted, "After we ran a 1min 22.0secs lap in the first session, you'd think we'd run a 21.5 in qualifying. In fact, we were three tenths slower. We made comments in the debrief as to what our Toll HRT Commodore needed, but haven't been able to grab it. I'm happy with how the car was through turn eight, but the bumps have been hurting us and the car's not riding them well. We should be in the top five, but we're not and we've got some work to do."

Shane van Gisbergen took a promising 13th with the SP Tools team, while Fabien Coulthard lifted the Paul Cruickshank-run Glenfords team into 16th, the best qualifying result for the team since graduating to the main series in 2006 and despite having veteran John Bowe on board in 2007.

"We wanted to be in the top 20 and we wanted to do that solidly and we did," van Gisbergen said, "We were on a quicker lap again at the end of leg two, but the SP Tools Falcon ran out of brakes into turn nine. Still, I'm very happy with today's result - 13th puts us at the front end of the midfield bunch and, if we can stick with the guys at the front, we can come away with a good result."

"This is where we felt we should have been after the official practice session at Queensland Raceway," Coulthard insisted after his strong run, "My final lap was shaping up to be my best and the split times were showing that, but I had some trouble with gear selection coming into turn nine which blew out my lap time. That was a little disappointing."

Coulthard may not have been too happy with the outcome, but team boss Cruickshank was delighted to be ahead of the likes of Jason Bright, Russell Ingall and Cameron McConville.

"Everything is starting to come together; our guys are getting it together and building on what we've learnt from previous seasons," he said, "There's still some work to be done to make the car nicer to drive over the distance, but I'm really happy with the way the season is coming together. I'm hoping we can build on it this weekend and throughout the season."