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Van Gisbergen on Supercar provisional pole

NZN 3/03/2017 Laine Clark

Only something special, it seemed, could defy Ford's gun Scott McLaughlin during Supercars qualifying in the opening round of the year in Adelaide on Friday.

Yet reigning series champion Shane van Gisbergen provided it - thanks to an unusual inspiration.

Flying Kiwi Van Gisbergen has hailed a toilet stop for topping the timesheets and claiming provisional pole ahead of Saturday's series-opening 250km race.

He stole McLaughlin's thunder by clocking a blistering qualifying mark of one minute, 19.78 seconds - eclipsing Ford's Fabian Coulthard's 1:20.01 record milestone.

"I went to the toilet before qualifying, so maybe that was it!" Van Gisbergen said.

Remarkably, Holden's Van Gisbergen was just 0.0001 of a second faster than ex-Volvo star McLaughlin.

Nissan surprise packet Rick Kelly was third fastest ahead of Saturday's top 10 qualifying shootout.

Van Gisbergen's Red Bull Racing teammate Jamie Whincup's race lap record (1:21.05) is expected to fall next on Saturday on the tough 3.2km street circuit.

Dunlop claimed "all" lap records would come under threat this year after introducing a faster - yet durable - soft control tyre this season.

And McLaughlin looked like the man most likely to enter the history books after clocking 1:19.84 at final practice on Friday - just 0.14 seconds short of the Adelaide practice record mark that he also owns.

But Van Gisbergen was not to be denied on Friday.

All eyes are on Ford powerhouse DJR Team Penske this year after ex-Volvo gun McLaughlin linked with fellow Kiwi Coulthard, after a career high third placing last year.

Pressure is building on DJR Team Penske - backed by US motorsport great Roger Penske - to break RBR's vice-like championship grip.

RBR have claimed five of the last six drivers' championships.

And Holden has won every race in Adelaide since 2013.

Now in the third year of his collaboration with Dick Johnson Racing, Penske has demanded results in 2017.

But McLaughlin already looks poised to deliver the Ford heavyweights their first race win after his head turning display on Friday.

History was made well before Van Gisbergen's qualifying heroics.

Perth high school student Alex Rullo - just 16 - became the youngest Supercars driver.

But he soon wasn't in the mood for celebrating.

The teenager copped a five minute penalty for a technical infringement at the end of opening practice before hitting the tyre wall on turn five in the second, prompting a red flag.

He didn't fare any better in qualifying, finishing last in the 26-strong field.

Nissan's Simona de Silvestro - the first female full-time Supercars driver - was 24th in qualifying.

The top 10 qualifying shootout starts at 1230 AEDT ahead of Saturday's opening 78-lap race at 1550 AEDT.

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