DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard celebrated his 200th Supercars Championship round in style by winning Race 25 at the Repco SuperSprint The Bend.
“Today was an awesome way to finish 200 round starts, and it was a lot of fun,” commented Coulthard. “I said to the guys that even if I didn’t win the race was still a lot of fun.
“To get a win was awesome and I can’t thank my guys enough. We can always improve and make the car better so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I made a small error in the shootout but we had a really good race car.
“It was a good, clean and fair battle, and I think it made some great TV.”
Team mate Scott McLaughlin had another superb start off the line, but a clutch slip for pole-sitter Mostert meant the two Red Bull RHolden Racing cars, which started on the second row, were quick to move up and put the pressure on the No. 17 of McLaughlin.
McLaughlin’s lead was short-lived when Whincup made contact as he lunged up the inside on the entry to turn 17 and sent them both into the dirt.
While Whincup was handed 15-second time for a driving infringement, it was little consolation for McLaughlin who found himself down in P18. With the two race leaders off the track, Coulthard moved up to P4 on the opening lap.
“It was a tough day for car #88,” Whincup said. “It’s disappointing my pass on car #17 left us both in the grass. He made a mistake at the corner before, so I needed to have a go. If I didn’t, I would have had a garage full of mechanics and engineers asking why I didn’t, and I’m not here to hand the Championship to DJR Team Penske on a platter.
“The penalty was harsh, but I probably would’ve made the same decision if I was upstairs; at the end of the day, that’s racing. Unfortunately, we had an overheating left-rear tyre and I lost plenty of spots at the end of the race. I felt my tyres start to struggle with about 10 laps to go, but there’s not much you can do about that.
“The track is so high-grip with big loaded left-hand turns which makes it hard on the left-rear tyres. We have plenty of work to do overnight to improve our race pace before tomorrow’s two races.”
McLaughlin pitted early on lap 6 to try and give himself some fresh air and salvage a result. He took on two fresh tyres during his stop and rejoined in P22. Coulthard pitted just two laps later and almost jumped Mostert when the WAUR stalled in pit lane. He slotted in behind and rejoined the race P16.
On lap 13, Coulthard’s battle with Mostert continued and he was able to pass at turn 18 putting him effectively in a podium position. Meanwhile, McLaughlin had fought his way back into the top 10 with cars ahead still to stop.
On lap 18, Le Brocq was challenging van Gisbergen for the race lead but ran wide, opening the door for Coulthard to move up to P2. Van Gisbergen was struggling with tyres, and Coulthard was just 0.3 seconds behind.
With serious race pace, McLaughlin had made a stunning comeback and had made his way up to P5. With just 4 laps remaining, he was only 1.5 seconds off the lead.
It was a sensational end to Race 25. Coulthard dropped back to P3 before making his way past both Le Brocq and van Gisbergen and into the race lead. He powered ahead and claimed the win.
McLaughlin continued to march forward and up to P3, but there was a question over contact he made with Holdsworth on his way there. McLaughlin was handed a 15-second time penalty and while he crossed the finish line in P3, his official finish was P15.
McLaughlin continues to lead the Supercars Championship by 151 points. Coulthard still sits 7th. The Shell V-Power Racing Team reclaimed the Teams’ Championship by just 10 points.
Race 25 Results
1 Fabian Coulthard
2 Jack Le Brocq
3 Bryce Fullwood
4 Andre Heimgartner
5 Cameron Waters
6 Rick Kelly
7 Scott Pye
8 Anton De Pasquale
9 Shane van Gisbergen
10 James Courtney
11 Nick Percat
12 Chaz Mostert
13 Lee Holdsworth
14 David Reynolds
15 Scott McLaughlin
16 Zane Goddard
17 Mark Winterbottom
18 Alex Davison
19 Jamie Whincup
20 Garry Jacobson
21 Macauley Jones
22 Chris Pither
23 Jack Smith
24 Todd Hazelwood