Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup continued his strong start to the season by claiming pole position for the first race of the Desert 400 at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Whincup set the fastest time in qualifying and repeated the feat in the top-10 shootout, despite a couple of moments in the middle of the lap which saw him down a few hundredths of a second starting the final sector, but he recovered to take pole by a quarter of a second.
It meant that Stone Brothers Racing's Shane van Gisbergen will have to wait to claim his maiden pole position, but it was a superb lap regardless to set the second-fastest time, just edging fellow Ford runner Mark Winterbottom's Ford Performance Racing Machine.
Next fastest were Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander and Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney, with Tander's teammate Will Davison moving up to sixth from 10th before the shootout, Davison just holding out Steven Richards in a return to the front of the grid and a disappointed Craig Lowndes who had set the second-fastest time beforehand.
Completing the top 10 runners were the two Paul Morris cars of Greg Murphy and Russell Ingall, both having issues with grip on their lap that saw them well off the pace, both drivers dropping four places down the order.
Just missing out on the shootout in 11th and 12th were Lee Holdsworth and Alex Davison, Holdsworth getting bumped out just 30 seconds before the end of the session.
13th fastest for Rick Kelly was not where he had hoped to be, though it was five places better than brother Todd who had set the third-fastest time overall in yesterday's practice sessions.
The Bundaberg Red team struggled again despite their close links with HRT, 17th for Fabian Coulthard and 21st for Andrew Thompson, though at least they out-qualified the three Brad Jones cars of Jason Richards in 22nd, Jason Bright in 24th and Karl Reindler in 28th.
Pos Driver Car Time
1. Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE 2m04.5189s
2. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG 2m04.7601s +0.2412s
3. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG 2m04.8245s +0.3056s
4. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE 2m05.1780s +0.6591s
5. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG 2m05.2142s +0.6953s
6. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE 2m05.4901s +0.9712s
7. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG 2m05.5247s +1.0058s
8. Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE 2m05.5945s +1.0756s
9. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE 2m06.2238s +1.7049s
10. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE 2m06.2445s +1.7256s
11. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE 2m06.0154s +0.8497s
12. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG 2m06.0384s +0.8727s
13. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE 2m06.1876s +1.0219s
14. Jonathon Webb Ford Falcon FG 2m06.1908s +1.0251s
15. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE 2m06.2695s +1.1038s
16. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG 2m06.3372s +1.1715s
17. Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE 2m06.3953s +1.2296s
18. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE 2m06.5219s +1.3562s
19. Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG 2m06.5954s +1.4297s
20. Paul Dumbrell Ford Falcon FG 2m06.8854s +1.7197s
21. Andrew Thompson Holden Commodore VE 2m06.9030s +1.7373s
22. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE 2m06.9633s +1.7976s
23. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE 2m07.1000s +1.9343s
24. Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE 2m07.3799s +2.2142s
25. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE 2m07.4578s +2.2921s
26. Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 2m07.5896s +2.4239s
27. Daniel Gaunt Holden Commodore VE 2m07.9573s +2.7916s
28. Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE 2m07.9751s +2.8094s
29. Tony Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE 2m08.4635s +3.2978s