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McLaughlin begins Supercars title defence by nabbing provisional pole in Adelaide

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same in Supercars.

Defending series champion Scott McLaughlin has picked up where he had left off in 2018 by claiming provisional pole for the Supercars opening round's first race in Adelaide.

It might be a new season and McLaughlin is behind the wheel of a new car but it has been the same old result for the Ford guru.

McLaughlin clocked a lap of one minute, 19:59 seconds on Friday in his new Mustang to top qualifying, ahead of Holden's seven-time series champ Jamie Whincup and his Ford teammate Fabian Coulthard.

The signs are ominous McLaughlin will repeat his heroics when the front of the grid will be determined by Saturday's top-10 shootout followed by the opening 250km race.

McLaughlin has shown no signs of slowing down despite switching to a Mustang, which has replaced Falcons this year for all six of Ford's teams.

There were some teething problems when McLaughlin experienced power steering dramas that left his car idle after just seven laps in Thursday's practice.

However, normal service resumed on Friday.

McLaughlin powered to the top of the timesheets despite surprisingly backing off and heading to pitlane late in the 20-minute qualifying session while most of the 24-strong field were launching flying laps.

McLaughlin kept his cool in scorching conditions in the twilight session with temperatures pushing 40 degrees trackside and almost 70 degrees in the car.

McLaughlin did not sound surprised by the seamless return of the Mustang, which last graced the grid in 1990.

"We had that failure (in Thursday practice) and had to reset but, in qualifying, the car was mint," he said.

"But we've been comfortable in the Mustang straight away. I think, as a team, we have developed it really well."

McLaughlin iced qualifying despite the sweltering conditions.

Drivers wore mandatory cool suits and helmet fans and loaded up on slushies throughout Friday to try to beat the heat.

The same high temperatures are forecast for Saturday.

But McLaughlin's DJR Team Penske outfit had no complaints - especially Coulthard.

He hit back after being under pressure to keep his seat beside McLaughlin after finishing last season a disappointing ninth overall.

There is speculation that Ford's Chaz Mostert will replace Coulthard in 2020 at DJR Team Penske.

Whincup's Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen was a disappointing seventh in qualifying.

Van Gisbergen is aiming to become the first driver to win five-straight races on Adelaide's tough street circuit.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22:  race winner Scott McLaughlin driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Falcon FGX celebrates on the podium during race 1 for the Supercars Australian Grand Prix round at Albert Park on March 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Scott McLaughlin on the podium at the Australian GP. Source: Getty


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