Scott McLaughlin pushes his Ford Falcon FG-X at the Pukekohe Park racetrack on Saturday. Picture: David Rowland/AAP
Scott McLaughlin pushes his Ford Falcon FG-X at the Pukekohe Park racetrack on Saturday. Picture: David Rowland/AAP

McLaughlin wins pole at Pukekohe ... just

SUPERCARS title leader Scott McLaughlin has rebounded from his practice day crash to win pole at Pukekoke Park.

He'll start alongside championship rival Shane van Gisbergen in Saturday's race in New Zealand, which pits the title-fighting Kiwis against each other.

Both came to play in qualifying on Saturday after suffering setbacks in practice.

McLaughlin was forced to abandon Friday's run after a major shunt into the tyre wall, but won his 13th qualifying session of the season courtesy of a 1:02.5708 lap.

He charted the time early before Simona de Silvestro's own trip onto the grass brought a red flag and a suspension to the session.

With rain falling, McLaughlin jumped out of the car as the presumptive pole-sitter but saw his Red Bull HRT rival take to the track for a Hail Mary effort.

Van Gisbergen almost stole the show, charting just 0.12 seconds behind his countryman in a red-hot effort after the chequered flag had fallen.

McLaughlin, watching on in the garage, breathed a deep sigh of relief before bursting out laughing at how close van Gisbergen, who earlier had his own practice mishap, got to stealing his pole.

The DJR Team Penske driver then raced behind pit lane to cheer in front of his adoring fans.

"It's pretty cool fist pumping ... I got in there just before the rain," he said.

"I gave myself a kick up the arse yesterday, (and my pit team) made the car straight again, gave me a great car and this is for them."

With the race to start at 2.10pm (AEDT), McLaughlin said: "It's going to be an awesome battle. It's awesome for New Zealand. Two Kiwis having a crack."

Van Gisbergen said he might have pinched pole but lost his nerve late on the hot lap.

"At the last corner I saw the big drops of rain and I backed off," he said.

"We'll race really hard and clean on track. I'm looking forward to the battle but I want to win it."

McLaughlin sits 14 points ahead of van Gisbergen in the championship, with their nearest rival, reigning champion Jamie Whincup, more than 400 points adrift with a maximum of 600 points left to fight for.

In-form pair David Reynolds and Chaz Mostert will start on the second row, with Whincup fifth.

News Corp Australia


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