Mustang’s shock impact on Albert Park circuit
SCOTT McLaughlin and the Mustang continued their stunning season start with the reigning champion and his Ford combining to break the Albert Park lap record during an Australian Grand Prix qualifying blitz.
After conquering the Commodore with an Adelaide clean sweep, the DJR Team Penske star lit up Melbourne on the opening day of the AGP on Thursday by clocking a record 1.53.82 to score pole position for the first of this weekend's four V8 races.
Another three Fords followed the reigning champion home as the Mustang again out muscled the Commodore.
Shane van Gisbergen was almost a full second behind McLaughlin with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver finishing in fifth to be the fastest of the Holdens.
"I am feeling good,'' McLaughlin said.
"And so is the Mustang. Hopefully there is still a little more in it. You always think there is some more in it.''
McLaughlin failed to match his record-breaking form in the second session but still beat the rest of the field to make it a qualifying double.
Going back-to-back to announce himself as the red-hot Formula weekend favourite, McLaughlin clocked a 1.53.82 to edge out the fellow Ford of Chaz Mostert as the Mustang scored a front-row lock-out.
"I made a bit of a mistake in that session,'' McLaughlin said.
"So the driver needs a big tune-up. I had a really good first sector but I was lucky to be able to hold on to win after a poor final sector. But obviously the car is good. It showed how awesome it was in the first qualifying session.
"It is great to be able to win another couple of qualifying session for the team.''
Earlier, McLaughlin spearheaded a Mustang blitz in practice with the flying Ford's untouchable in the 40-minute session that came before qualifying.
Sending an ominous warning to Holden with a furious Ford fling, McLaughlin clocked a 1.54.55 as the Mustang claimed the four fastest times.
McLaughlin was followed home by fellow Fords Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters as Dave Reynolds finished in fifth to be the fastest Holden.
DJR Team/Penske pilot Coulthard is hoping to be able to match his all-conquering teammate this weekend.
"I just need it to be a little bit more predictable," Coulthard said.
"At the moment it's close, but we just need to make it a bit more predictable so I can push a bit harder."
But he may have his work cut out with McLaughlin vowing to improve on his already record breaking form.
"I still need some turn,'' McLaughlin said.
"I am battling in some spots. I have been a bit loose but when a number like 53 pops up you just have to fist pump the air.''
Red Bull driver Jamie Whincup clocked a 1.54.34 in the second qualifying session to finish third fastest and stop the Mustang from locking out the first two rows of the grid.