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‘Stupid amount of risk’ helps Lowndes stay on track for Bathurst record

“I nearly crashed about 15 times,” Whincup said of his qualifying effort in the wet.

“It was a massive risk just to get in the top 10.

“While we’re not celebrating, we’re happy that we’re in the top 10 but it took a stupid amount of risk to finish P7 (seventh).”

Jamie Whincup comes into view at Mount Panorama.

Jamie Whincup comes into view at Mount Panorama.Credit:Getty Images

Race organisers were no doubt breathing a sigh of relief after Whincup’s heroics.

Whincup’s co-driver Lowndes has become the poster boy for the 2019 race which marks his long-awaited return to Supercars after he announced his retirement from full-time racing last year.

Fan favourite Lowndes, 45, has signed on as a co-driver with Whincup’s Red Bull Racing team for the three endurance rounds starting with Bathurst until the end of 2021.

And now that Whincup has kept Red Bull Racing in the top 10 mix, seven-time Bathurst champion Lowndes can dare to dream of one day eclipsing Brock’s Mount Panorama milestone.

Lowndes is equal second on the all-time Bathurst winners’ list and just two short of Brock’s remarkable nine victories on the mountain.

While Whincup was impressive, the man to beat in Sunday’s Great Race is still Ford’s Supercars series leader Scott McLaughlin.

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Just hours after setting another lap record under clear skies on Friday, defending series champion McLaughlin soaked up wet conditions to top the timesheets again and claim provisional pole for the Bathurst 1000.

McLaughlin thrived on a treacherous Mount Panorama track, clocking two minutes, 27.64 seconds to hold out fellow Ford driver Chaz Mostert and Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen in qualifying.

McLaughlin’s time was almost 30 seconds slower than the lap record he set in Friday’s second practice session held under clear skies – a blistering 2:03.48.

It marked the second time in as many days he had lowered the track record.

But the New Zealander was just thankful to emerge unscathed from a wet qualifying session.

The top 10 shootout starts at 1705 AEDT on Saturday.

AAP

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