Cam Waters has beaten Matt Payne to Race 25 provisional pole at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500, with title hopefuls Will Brown and Broc Feeney hitting trouble.
Tickford Racing star Waters pipped Penrite Racing rookie Payne to top spot by just 0.0503s after 15 enthralling minutes in ARMOR ALL Qualifying.
Eight teams secured a Shootout berth, with five Fords and five Chevrolets to contest the ARMOR ALL Shootout, which will commence at 1:05pm local time/2:05pm AEDT.
Championship leader Brodie Kostecki (#99 Coca-Cola Camaro) and closest rival Shane van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro) qualified third and fifth, but it was a vastly different story for respective teammates Brown and Feeney.
Brown qualified 25th and last in his stricken #9 Coca-Cola Camaro, with the Queenslander stuck in the lane due to a gearbox issue.
The 25-year-old’s woes helped Kostecki clinch the ARMOR ALL Pole Champion Award, with Brown the only driver in contention to prevent his teammate from taking 2023 honours.
Feeney, meanwhile, picked up a kerb strike on his final run aboard the #88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro, and was unable to secure a Shootout berth.
Waters’ best lap, a 1:10.8361s, proved nearly 0.2s slower than van Gisbergen’s quickest time in Friday practice.
Thomas Randle (#55 Castrol Mustang) impressed to fourth, with Scott Pye (#20 Hino Camaro), David Reynolds (#26 Penrite Mustang), Tim Slade (#23 Nulon Camaro), Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang) and Andre Heimgartner (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro) rounding out the top 10.
All drivers bar van Gisbergen rolled out as soon as the track went green, with van Gisbergen remaining in pit lane in a bid to find clear air.
Randle set the initial pace with a 1:11.7072s, and improved to a 1:10.9873s next time around. Kostecki, who leads the championship over van Gisbergen by 131 points, cast aside an early kerb strike to clock a 1:10.9062s.
Waters, meanwhile, followed up a mistake at Turn 11 to record a 1:10.8566s. Behind him, van Gisbergen was as low as 22nd after picking up a kerb strike at the beach chicane, before improving to sixth ahead of the final runs with a 1:11.2898s.
All the while, Brown was stuck in the lane due to a gear selection issue, with Erebus hurriedly working on the car as the rest of the field rolled out for the second runs. Brown stepped out of the car with two minutes remaining, consigning the young driver to 25th.
It came after Erebus completed an overnight transaxle and clutch change on the #9 Camaro, with Brown third quickest in Friday’s first practice despite undergoing back surgery after Bathurst.
Mostert, whose contract extension with Walkinshaw Andretti United was revealed before the session, jumped to seventh as the chequered flag unfurled. Mostert bumped James Golding (#31 Nulon Camaro) out of the top 10, and despite being dropped to ninth, hung onto a Shootout berth by 0.12s.
James Courtney (#5 Snowy River Mustang) moved into 10th with a 1:11.3498s, pushing Mark Winterbottom (#18 DEWALT Camaro) to 11th.
Waters went faster again to consolidate top spot, with the Tickford driver recording a 1:10.8361s. Randle also improved his time, as did Pye, who pushed Courtney out of the top 10. The 2010 champion missed a Shootout berth by just 0.05s.
It was a tricky session for the Shell V-Power Racing Team, with Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale to line up alongside each other in 17th and 18th.
Declan Fraser, who was unable to set a lap on Friday due to power steering issues, qualified 23rd in the #56 TRADIE Ford ahead of Jack Smith (#4 SCT Logistics Camaro) and Brown.
The Race 25 grid will be finalised by the ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout, which will commence at 1:05pm local time/2:05pm AEDT.