Reigning V8 Supercar Series champion Jamie Whincup claimed pole position for tomorrow's first qualifying race as part of the Australian Grand Prix support races at Albert Park.
The 29-year-old smashed the previous lap record with a 1m55.0805s, putting him almost half a second clear of the field.
"We're in good shape – I didn't want to burn up too many tires," Whincup said following the session. "We have some pretty important people coming tomorrow, so we want to put on a good show."
Mark Winterbottom (FPR Ford) and Shane van Gisbergen (Stone Brothers Ford) complete the front three on the grid for tomorrow's qualifying race – the first of three such races before a "final" on Sunday, for which a $500,000 Australian [$525,000 U.S.] prize fund has been put up.
The new format also involves a knock-out system in which the last three cars on each lap will be black-flagged until the field is down to 10 cars, at which point they will have five laps to settle the final order. Each driver will then be awarded points for their finishing position, with the total over the three qualifying races used to determine the grid for the Sunday final.
Whincup's Triple 8 teammate Craig Lowndes will start tomorrow's opening qualifying race from fifth. Garth Tander (HRT Holden), Tony D'Alberto (D'Alberto Ford) and David Reynolds (Rod Nash/FPR Ford) completed the top eight.