Another Kiwi 1–2: Fabian Coulthard takes first Supercars win of 2019
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Fabian Coulthard has broken through to win his first Virgin Australia Supercars race of 2019 — leading home Shell V-Power Racing Ford Mustang teammate Scott McLaughlin to the line.
The result is Coulthard's first win since Winton Raceway last May. The result sees the championship points close up between the two, while simultaneously growing the margin to Shane van Gisbergen in third.
While the DJR Team Penske duo dominated the race after the second wave of pit-stops, the driver in third — Anton de Pasquale — took most of the post-race accolades. The Erebus Motorsport ace momentarily looked like a contender for the win, before ultimately claiming a comfortable third place; his first podium finish after debuting in the series last year.
Much like yesterday, the Shell Mustang pair led the opening stanza — McLaughlin with the edge off the start over Coulthard. But, it didn't mean too much with the vast level of strategic games that were played come the first pit-cycle.
There were all sorts of different moves, from teams putting in less fuel to teams avoiding tyres entirely. Among those to put no new tyres on at all was Chaz Mostert, and he subsequently took on the on-track lead. One of the other curious changes was between the Shell entries — Coulthard emerging in front of McLaughlin despite taking on more fuel.
McLaughlin, buried in the traffic of his teammate, Waters, and de Pasquale, exited the battle by making his second stop on lap 17. It was an early stop, meaning a long drive home on a single set of tyres. Mostert and Waters echoed the move on the following lap. The net result was de Pasquale taking second place from McLaughlin and Coulthard jumping them both to resume in the lead.
De Pasquale's grip on second was temporary. He soon became vulnerable to McLaughlin, and a slight mistake at the Southern Loop allowed the series leader to get a peek on the Penrite Commodore's inside. It proved to be enough, with the pass for second (on corrected) completed before 'Honda' corner.
Following that second wave of stops, it was now a waiting game to see if a safety car would shake up the race. It had been relatively straightforward to that point, with a lap-one clash between James Courtney and Todd Hazelwood (resulting in Hazelwood looping into the sand trap) and two punctures for Courtney being among the few on-track incidents.
But, no caution would come. And, despite the margin between them ebbing and flowing, Coulthard would be able to keep his spot at the front to claim a first win of 2019. McLaughlin took second, while de Pasquale broke through for a memorable first podium finish in the face of late-race worries concerning fuel. Will Davison, Mostert, Cameron Waters, and Shane van Gisbergen completed the top seven.
Behind them, the best fight of the closing laps ensued. Rick Kelly and Nick Percat fought hard, with David Reynolds keeping a watching brief. Coming like a freight train behind them was Tim Slade, who had made his second stop very late. With fresh tyres on, he sliced by Reynolds before rekindling a spirited battle with teammate Percat. The battle allowed Kelly to leap away, before being resolved by a slick last-corner switchback pass from Slade. In the end he finished eighth, behind Kelly, and ahead of Percat in 10th.
Jamie Whincup, after a trying weekend, finished 12th following an uneventful race. André Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway completed the Kiwi contingent 13th and 23rd (the latter balked by an accidental 'double stack' in pit-lane).
The series now travels to the Perth SuperNight event at Barbagallo Raceway on May 3–4.
Results: WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, race 10
1. Fabian Coulthard
2. Scott McLaughlin
3. Anton de Pasquale
4. Will Davison
5. Chaz Mostert
6. Cameron Waters
7. Shane van Gisbergen
8. Rick Kelly
9. Tim Slade
10. Nick Percat
11. David Reynolds
12. Jamie Whincup
13. André Heimgartner
14. Lee Holdsworth
15. Scott Pye
16. Todd Hazelwood
17. Mark Winterbottom
18. Simona De Silvestro
19. Garry Jacobson
20. Jack LeBrocq
21. Macauley Jones
22. James Golding
23. Richie Stanaway
24. James Courtney