DYLAN O’KEEFFE and Sam Shahin have split the TAG Heuer Pole Awards in qualifying for Round 5 of the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship at Sandown Raceway.
O’Keeffe grabbed his first Equity-One Pro class pole since Winton 2022 with a stunning performance in the 12-minute Pro session, his 1m08.6980s flyer the quickest ever Cup Car lap of Sandown.
The Victorian driver set his benchmark on his sixth flyer in the session with a lap time good enough to withstand others attempting to beat it. He ultimately grabbed the top spot by just 0.10s with Callum Hedge second for Team Porsche NZ and Earl Bamber Motorsport.
O’Keeffe’s stunning lap came after topping practice earlier in the day, and broke Earl Bamber Motorsport’s stranglehold on pole positions this year.
Second represented Hedge’s fourth front row effort from five sessions this year, -a position made even more important given his tenuous lead in the Michelin Junior standings that will be decided this weekend.
Max Vidau will line up third for race one, with a returning David Russell fourth and Bayley Hall fifth. The margin between Hedge and Hall in fifth was just 0.09 seconds.
Fabian Coulthard was sixth, making it five teams on the first three rows of the grid for race one, while David Wall, Dale Wood, Simon Fallon and Nick McBride rounded out the top-10.
Michelin Junior contender Jackson Walls could only manage 13th aboard his Objective Racing / McElrea entry, though the Sydneysider was only 0.5s away from pole.
In the SP Tools Pro-Am battle, an unpredictable session saw Shahin bank his 1m10.1162s best on his seventh of 10 completed laps.
Dean Cook, however, narrowly missed grabbing pole with his 10th flyer falling 0.02 seconds away from beating Shahin in the closest session of the year.
It was Shahin’s second pole of the year, the seventh of his career and closes the South Australian driver with Adrian Flack, who has scored three, in the battle for the overall TAG Heuer Pole Award this year.
Adrian Flack was third, having missed running earlier today with steering rack issues aboard his Agas National-supported EBM entry, and just 0.10s from pole position.
Rodney Jane was fourth in his Bob Jane T-Marts Sonic entry, his strong middle sector performances putting him 0.18s of pole.
On his return to the championship – deputising for Luke King – Liam Talbot qualified fifth but only 0.20 seconds from pole. Matt Belford was sixth and just 0.3 from Shahin’s benchmark, with Tim Miles, Daniel Stutterd, Drew Hall and Marc Cini completing the leaderboard.
The Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia field will race twice on Saturday at the Sandown 500, with the first race at 10:0am and the second at 3:25pm. Both races will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 506 and Kayo Sports.