Watch: Kiwis claim V8 clean sweep at Bathurst, controversy for McLaughlin
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New Zealanders Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, and Fabian Coulthard have swept the victories across last night's three BP Supercars All Stars Eseries virtual races at Mount Panorama.
Van Gisbergen won the opener and Coulthard won the reverse-grid. McLaughlin ended up winning the longer final race and the round overall (his AU$1000 charity winnings donated to Camp Quality), but was involved in two controversial penalties on the night.
The first went against him, with the defending series champ labeling the penalty "BS". The second penalty on the other hand went in his favour, after he was judged to have been taken out of the lead of the race on the final corner of the final lap by wildcard Brodie Kostecki, following the most nail-biting finish of the round.
Van Gisbergen started the opening 8-lap race from pole after claiming the Top 10 Shootout, having narrowly outqualified Brodie Kostecki. Anton De Pasquale and Chaz Mostert lined up on the second row, ahead of IndyCar ace Will Power and Andre Heimgartner. Series leader McLaughlin started from eighth.
As the traditional cycle of chaos reigned in the mid-pack, the leaders looked to have made a clean start. That was until the end of Conrod Straight, when the four cars battling for fourth - Chaz Mostert, Heimgartner, Power, and McLaughlin - all collided. Heimgartner by far took on the most damage. McLaughlin was initially able to press on in fourth almost entirely unscathed, only to incur a drive-through penalty for his contact with Power.
Brodie Kostecki was the first of the leaders to stop, doing so on lap two from second place behind van Gisbergen in the hopes of an undercut on fresh tyres. Van Gisbergen and De Pasquale both made their stops at the end of lap four, with Kostecki unable to steal the lead (the wildcard complaining of traffic during the critical lap).
The trio at the front remained in their respective spots; van Gisbergen claiming his third win of the season,seven tenths ahead of Kostecki. McLaughlin served his penalty on the penultimate lap, handing fourth through sixth to Randle, Mostert, and Power. McLaughlin wound up seventh, ahead of Mark Winterbottom, Macauley Jones, and Nick Percat.
The reverse-grid race two was headed by Fabian Coulthard and Zane Goddard, with Jack Smith and Chris Pither on the second row behind. With more crashes unfolding on cold tyres, the opening lap's main casualties were van Gisbergen and Brodie Kostecki; both involved in crashes around the track. In their absence Coulthard maintained first over Jake Kostecki, with Heimgartner battling Will Davison and Garry Jacobson for third.
Jamie Whincup and Jacobson looked set to star in the results, until the pairing hooked together on Conrod Straight while side-by-side. Both cars were instantly destroyed, with Jack Le Brocq also piling into the crash. By the time the dust had settled pit cycle was complete, Coulthard led over Cameron Waters, Will Davison, and McLaughlin who had carved through the pack. That's how the top four stayed, Coulthard winning with margin. David Reynolds took a clean fifth over Goddard, van Gisbergen, Mostert, Heimgartner, and Brodie Kostecki.
Coulthard then started the long final 14-lap race alongside Waters, with the grid defined by race two's finishing order. Apart from a spin at turn two for Reynolds, the start was relatively clean among the leaders, with Coulthard leading Waters, and McLaughlin holding the top three. Behind, a host of cars made their first of two pit stops.
As more drivers stopped, more battles messy battles emerged throughout the pack. Waters and Davison were among the battles to end with disaster; Waters spinning his teammate at Forest Elbow, with Power slamming into the stationary Davison. It looked like Power would be able to recover, having repaired his car to be on the same strategy as Mostert and De Pasquale; both of whom had completed their two stops early in order to get away from the carnage. But, the three would all crash at turn one after converging in the braking zone.
As the race wore on, McLaughlin and van Gisbergen emerged as the main contenders for the win. The pairing both jumped Coulthard during stops, then assumed lead with Brodie Kostecki in close pursuit for a tight grandstand run to the finish. Van Gisbergen looked like he was in a position to challenge for the lead, but with McLaughlin appearing to have his measure the 2016 champ appeared to let Kostecki past on the run to the cutting.
It set up a fantastic battle to end the evening between the series leader and the wildcard. With one lap to go, the pair were nose to tail; making nose-to-tail contact on Conrod Straight and then again into turn one. As they hurtled down Conrod for the final time, McLaughlin danced left and right to try and shake Kostecki out of the draft. After somehow fending off the Super2 points leader at the Chase, it looked like McLaughlin had done enough to claim the win.
But, as they approached the last corner, they made nose-to-tail contact and McLaughlin scooted wide into the wall while Kostecki collected the chequered flag. There was contention over if McLaughlin had lost control heading into the corner before getting hit, but driving standards observer Craig Baird ended up siding with McLaughlin. It meant the leading two spots were reversed; McLaughlin taking the win and Kostecki falling into second. Van Gisbergen, Waters, Heimgartner, Coulthard, Randle, Jacobson, Lee Holdsworth, and Power rounded out the top 10.
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