Rick Kelly drives his Sengled Racing Nissan Altima during qualifying for Race 11 at the Darwin Triple Crown.
Rick Kelly drives his Sengled Racing Nissan Altima during qualifying for Race 11 at the Darwin Triple Crown. Daniel Kalisz

WATCH: Kelly storms to first pole since 2015

NISSAN has upset Supercars' big three teams to take pole position for Race 11 at the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown.

Rick Kelly took his first pole since 2015, setting a new Supercars qualifying record around the Hidden Valley layout with a 1min 05.771sec lap.

"I clipped the kerb and I thought I blew it," Kelly joked. "Credit to the guys, the car feels like it's on rails at the moment."

Kelly and fellow front-row starter Scott McLaughlin laid down their laps early in the 15-minute session, something Russell Ingall believes was the key to speed in the session.

"I think those guys that rolled (new tyres) straight out the gate, that's what got them up there," he said.

"We's just had the Carrera Cup race, they lay down a different rubber and I reckon that rubber, for whatever reason, for those first few laps out of the gate, it grips up. As the session went on the track got worse.

"That's my theory; whether it's true or not I don't know."

Kelly's pole position is the ninth of his Supercars career, and ends a streak of six pole positions for DJR Team Penske.

Championship leader Fabian Coulthard will start from third, saving a fresh set of tyres for Race 11, with Erebus Motorsport's David Reynolds alongside.

Winton winner Shane van Gisbergen will start from fifth ahead of Nick Percat, while his Red Bull teammate Jamie Whincup will chase his first win of 2017 from ninth.

It was a difficult session for 2015 champion Mark Winterbottom.

While teammates Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters cracked the top 10, Frosty could do no better than 17th.

"We're struggling; the car's just not quick enough. Then you push too hard and make mistakes," he lamented.

"Just struggling with braking in that one and just all around grip. Whether it's locking a brake or the rear kicking out, we're just stepping over that threshold too quickly."

Craig Lowndes and Michael Caruso both failed to carry their Practice 3 speed into qualifying, the veteran ending up 19th, while last year's Saturday winner will start this year's race from 22nd.

"We tried something in practice that worked, and it's turned on the other end for qualifying," Caruso said.

"Bit disappointing because the car was great in that practice session. It's going to be a tough afternoon from where we are but we'll give it a crack."

The session ran largely without incident, Dale Wood crashing into the tyres at Turn 11 just moments before the session wrapped up.

News Corp Australia


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