SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Israel Folau of the Wallabies runs the ball during the International Test match between the Australia Wallabies and France at Allianz Stadium on June 21, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Shane van Gisbergen gave his championship hopes an added boost in New Zealand this morning by taking pole position in the first all-important qualifying session ahead of this afternoon's opening race.

The kiwi driver's time of 1:02.51 was only a fraction of a second faster than his Red Bull Racing teammate, Jamie Whincup, who will start alongside him on the front row of the grid.

Scotty McLaughlin put his Volvo on the second row of the grid behind van Gisbergen in P3 with the reigning series champion, Mark Winterbottom, in fourth.

Tander and Courtney will line up on row three with Kelly and Pye on row four.

Fan favourite Craig Lowndes had a bad morning finishing down in 21st place.

The top six cars were covered by less than one tenth of a second.