Watch: McLaughlin wins after crash with teammate Coulthard, in wild Winton opener
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship points leader Scott McLaughlin has defied a chaotic race start and a looming penalty that failed to eventuate to win the opening race of the Truck Assist Winton SuperSprint, ahead of Chaz Mostert and David Reynolds.
McLaughlin's race didn't start terribly well, following a controversial opening-lap clash with teammate Fabian Coulthard [video above]. The latter wound up incurring a penalty of his own later in the race, eventually finishing down in 15th place. In his absence, fellow Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Andre Heimgartner finished fifth and eighth respectively — having fought hard from 12th and 22nd respectively.
Off the back of the win, McLaughlin's lead of the championship is now a handy 232 points over Coulthard.
Lap one kicked off when Coulthard and pole-sitter Mostert ran alongside each other through turns one and two in a determined, door-banging fashion. This cost both of them momentum, making them vulnerable to the chasing parties of James Courtney, David Reynolds, and McLaughlin.
Mostert was knocked backwards, and on the run to the sweeper Coulthard had conceded first and second to Courtney and Reynolds. And, it looked like McLaughlin too would also get by. But mid-corner, the teammates made contact — Coulthard nudging McLaughlin near the left-rear wheel.
Both ran wide through the dirt, with Coulthard trundling back onto the track at the same corner he left from. McLaughlin meanwhile straight-lined through the grass, taking the lead momentarily when he rejoined before allowing the leading Holden duo to get by.
It was a controversial set of corners, and Coulthard was the one that wound up getting another penalty — 15 seconds, at his one and only pit stop. After much deliberation, McLaughlin was allowed to race on in position. In getting his pit-stop, Coulthard lamented over the radio that he had recovered 'correctly', and McLaughlin had not ("Bairdo, I hope you're listening" a reference to Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird).
Like with Moses, the race from there opened up for McLaughlin. A mild clash between Courtney and Reynolds resulted in a five-second penalty for the latter, while a long opening stint for the former put him into traffic post pit-stop. What also helped McLaughlin was that neither Red Bull Holden Racing Team entry had been threatening all race, although they had both made significant progress after qualifying 10th and 11th.
In their absence, McLaughlin's main rival in the final laps was Mostert — who had recovered from a poor pit-stop. But after a few close laps, McLaughlin was able to drive away to victory by 1.3 seconds. Mostert, Reynolds, Courtney, and van Gisbergen rounded out the top five while a late 15-second penalty for Lee Holdsworth (following contact with Anton de Pasquale) dropped him out of the top 10 and raised Heimgartner to a stellar eighth.
Truck Assist Winton SuperSprint, race one
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Chaz Mostert
3. David Reynolds
4. James Courtney
5. Shane van Gisbergen
6. Jamie Whincup
7. Nick Percat
8. Andre Heimgartner
9. Mark Winterbottom
10. Scott Pye
11. Cameron Waters
12. Will Davison
13. Tim Slade
14. Rick Kelly
15. Fabian Coulthard
16. Lee Holdsworth
18. James Golding
19. Anton de Pasquale
20. Todd Hazelwood
21. Jack Le Brocq
22. Garry Jacobson
23. Simona De Silvestro
24. Jack Smith
25. Richie Stanaway