Kiwis dominate in Tasmania, as Scott McLaughlin leads a Ford Mustang 1–2
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Shell's pair of Ford Mustang pilots — Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard — have finished first and second in the opening Supercars race at Symmons Plains. Shane van Gisbergen completed the all-Kiwi podium.
The win sees McLaughlin extend his points lead to 135 points over Chaz Mostert. Van Gisbergen's result meanwhile promotes him to eighth.
Behind them, in a day when he didn't finish first it was nonetheless a day of firsts for Mark Winterbottom. After claiming a first pole position for Charlie Schwerkolt's Irwin Racing squad, it looked like he would grab the single-car team's first podium. But, after losing the spot to van Gisbergen on the last lap, the 2015 series champ finished fourth.
McLaughlin's win was made particularly sweet, as the defending series champ spent the race battling illness.
“I'll have a good sleep tonight, watch a bit of the footy, and try to come back better myself,” a coughing and spluttering McLaughlin said post-race. “There's been a lot of stuff thrown at us and whatever, but we're a strong group.”
It was a largely straightforward race for the win. McLaughlin beat Winterbottom to turn one off the start, and led each lap following apart from those during the pit cycle.
Coulthard's second place was well earned too. He initally lost a spot off the start after getting played on lap one by a fast-starting David Reynolds. But, he fought back in the following laps — edging back by Coulthard at the end of the back straight, and then getting past Winterbottom in pit lane.
One of the biggest talking points of the race were a string of pit stops impacted by errors. Both DJR Team Penske Mustangs had slow left-rear tyre swaps, although neither car lost positions as a result. Less lucky were Winterbottom and van Gisbergen; the former losing a spot to Coulthard, and the latter losing out to James Courtney and David Reynolds.
What was in van Gisbergen's favour were a fresher set of tyres, and in the closing laps he was able to pick off not only Reynolds, but also Courtney — and then eventually Winterbottom.
It looked like the Irwin Commodore driver had third place sewed up, but late-race traffic in the form of wildcard Jack Smith did him no favours. Van Gisbergen ended up making the move at the end of the back straight on lap 49 of 50, after getting a superior run through the tight turn three hairpin.
Courtney and Reynolds eventually completed the top six, ahead of Tim Slade, Nick Percat, Anton de Pasquale, and Mostert. Richie Stanaway and André Heimgartner rounded out the Kiwi contingent in 16th and 18th respectively.
Totally absent from the top 10 was Jamie Whincup. The Red Bull pilot had a shocking day. A spin in qualifying relegated him to 15th on the grid, and then a lap-two wheel-to-wheel tiff with Mostert resulted in a puncture. He ended up finishing last, and falling from second to fourth in the standings.
One race at Symmons Plains remains tomorrow, scheduled for 3.05pm.
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Fabian Coulthard
3. Shane van Gisbergen
4. Mark Winterbottom
5. James Courtney
6. David Reynolds
7. Tim Slade
8. Nick Percat
9. Anton de Pasquale
10. Chaz Mostert
11. Cameron Waters
12. Scott Pye
13. Lee Holdsworth
14. Todd Hazelwood
15. James Golding
16. Richie Stanaway
17. Rick Kelly
18. André Heimgartner
19. Will Davison
20. Macauley Jones
21. Simona De Silvestro
22. Jack LeBrocq
23. Jack Smith
24. Garry Jacobson
25. Jamie Whincup