Reigning Bathurst champions win pole at Sandown 500
THE rain gods have delivered new life into the Supercars title race, with three of Shane van Gisbergen's top title rivals to start from the front two rows at Sunday's Sandown 500.
Reigning Bathurst champions David Reynolds and Luke Youlden won pole on a wild and windy Saturday in Melbourne, ahead of the fast-finishing pair of Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell in their red-hot ZB Commodore.
"It was a bizarre, crazy day," Reynolds.
"Things organically happened today ... I was lucky to hang on.
"The last couple of laps, these tyres were going off. I'm ever so grateful to have pole."
DJR Team Penske's chief title hope Scott McLaughlin is joined by teammate Fabian Coulthard on the second row.
McLaughlin will hope to cash in on van Gibsergen's absence from the top 10.
The series leader struggled to match his teammate's pace at the Home of Horsepower and will start from the sixth row in the first race of the Enduro Cup.
On Saturday, qualifying was contested over three stages: a regular session for main drivers, then a co-drivers race, which set a grid for the regular series drivers in a final 20-lap race.
The biggest drama came in the co-drivers race, when the heavens dumped both rain and hail just seconds after the release of a safety car.
Until that point, Whincup and Dumbrell had dominated the weekend and looked to be cruising to another pole position.
But they, and most of the field, made a big call when the rain and hail came down, coming in for wet tyres.
"It's a 50-50 call ... when hail is coming out of the sky you think you put wets on," Whincup said.
When the shower stopped just minutes later, the teams that had the courage to stay out on slicks, including both DJR Team Penske Falcons, were able to get home ahead of those that had pitted.
Dumbrell finished 11th and Supercars debutant Earl Bamber, partnering van Gisbergen, made it home in 16th.
Car No.1's incredible pace was evident when Whincup jumped back in the car for the final race, storming through the field to the front row.
"The Sandown 500 is a bloody hard race to win. We'll give it everything we've got," Whincup said.
The two Holdens on the front row are the only Commodores in the top seven.
Tickford pair Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert cashed in on their decision not to pit during the co-drivers race to finished fifth and seventh.
Aaren Russell put his Nissan Altima on pole for the main drivers race but Andre Heimgartner fell back to the pack and will start sixth.
SANDOWN 500 STARTING ORDER
1. David Reynolds - Luke Youlden (Holden)
2. Jamie Whincup - Paul Dumbrell (Holden)
3. Scott McLaughlin - Alex Premat (Ford)
4. Fabian Coulthard - Tony D'Alberto (Ford)
5. Mark Winterbottom - Dean Canto (Ford)
6. Andre Heimgartner - Aaren Russell (Nissan)
1. Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) - 2778
2. Scott McLaughlin (Ford) - 2759
3. Jamie Whincup (Holden) - 2416
4. Craig Lowndes (Holden) - 2229
5. David Reynolds (Holden) - 2213
6. Fabian Coulthard (Ford) - 1922