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.

"After the hairpin, I tried to make up as much as I could in the last couple of corners and got a little bit of it back. The car itself is very good and we're happy with the balance."

Mark Winterbottom was looking safe for a front row start for Saturday's first 78-lap race, but had his time stripped for kerb-hopping. The Ford Performance Racing star will now start from ninth on the grid with his time disallowed.

Winterbottom was not alone either, as Garry Rogers Motorsport's Lee Holdsworth - who went even quicker - also found himself falling foul of the stewards for jumping the kerb at turn two and will start from tenth. Tander's new team-mate Will Davison was also on target for a strong starting position before he made a mistake in the second HRT Commodore and will start from seventh position.

As a result of the reshuffle, Tander will be joined on row two by Jim Beam Ford debutant James Courtney, while Fabien Coulthard and Paul Dumbrell share row three ahead of Davison and Jason Richards. Coulthard and Dumbrell were delighted to get the Wilson Security/ Paul Cruickshank Ford and Autobarn Holden into the top ten respectively, while Richards made a strong start to his new relationship with Team BOC.

While Whincup and Winterbottom assumed familiar positions at the head of the main qualifying timesheet, Richards slotted into fourth, between the HRT Commodores of Davison and Tander, with Dumbrell getting the better of Lowndes, Courtney, Holdsworth and Coulthard in the bottom half of the top ten.

Leading those to miss out on the 'extra' session to determine pole was FPR's Steven Richards, who failed to dislodge Coulthard by a scant 0.03secs, and will line-up just ahead of SP Tools/Stone Brothers Shane van Gisbergen and Fujitsu Racing's Jason Bright on Saturday. Steven Johnson and Michael Caruso completed the top 15, but there were disappointing results for veterans Russell Ingall and Greg Murphy - who sandwiched the now self-run car of Rick Kelly in 16th and 18th. Ingall's rookie team-mate Tim Slade, by contrast, made a better than anticipated start to his full-time V8 career in 19th, while Tony d'Alberto rounded out the top 20.

Jason Bargwanna's return with Sprint Gas Racing yielded 23rd spot, behind Marcus Marshall - in the new Intaracing Falcon - and rookie David Reynolds' Bundaberg Red Racing Holden, but in front of the second Jack Daniel's/Kelly Racing Commodore of Todd Kelly.



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