Super start hands Fabian Coulthard second straight win
A perfect start in Race 11 has helped Fabian Coulthard power to his second straight Supercars Championship victory as the series raced under lights in Perth for the first time.
DJR Team Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin finished second following a slow start from pole, while Tickford Racing driver Chaz Mostert made it a Mustang sweep of the podium in third.
Coulthard’s 12th career victory came via a faultless drive, beating his team-mate into the first corner and managing a two-second margin for much of the 50-lap race to take the win, backing up his performance at Phillip Island a fortnight ago.
McLaughlin’s slow start saw him drop to fourth on the opening lap, however an aggressive pit strategy saw the championship leader come close to regaining the lead from his teammate – before ultimately settling for second.
Mostert looked a solid top five contender before closing on and ultimately passing Triple Eight Race Engineering driver Jamie Whincup for third late in the race.
Coulthard, however, was faultless to lead another DJR Team Penske 1-2 under the lights in Perth, reducing his deficit to his teammate in the championship to 112 points ahead of race 12 tomorrow.
“It’s awesome to win in the dark. All the good s**t happens after dark!” Coulthard beamed.
“Congrats to scotty for finishing second: The mustang is awesome fun to drive.”
Coulthard explained that the teammates had discussed the short but critical run to turn one prior to the race.
“Scotty and I both spoke about it. I needed a blinder to take the lead or he needed one and I needed to slot behind. Awesome launch to get the run into one.”
McLaughlin’s slow start from pole position ensured he was immediately passed by Coulthard – who led the field into turn one – Whincup and even Mostert after a particularly close wheel-to-wheel battle through turns three and four.
The championship leader was quickly on the attack and passed Mostert under brakes at turn seven four laps in before setting out after Whincup, getting to the back of the Commodore by lap seven.
While Coulthard eased away to a two-second lead by lap 10 and McLaughlin hounded Whincup for second, Mostert settled into fourth. Big movers in the early stages included Nick Percat, who climbed from seventh to fifth in the opening lap shuffle.
Simona De Silvestro of Kelly Racing was the first to take the compulsory pit stop, taking tyres on the eleventh lap, Holdsworth and Golding following within a few laps of the Nissan.
With evidence of an undercut, McLaughlin was the first of the leaders to stop when he headed to the pits on the sixteenth lap from third position. Critically, the championship leader also only took two (left-side) tyres in an effort to jump not only Whincup, but Coulthard as well.
Whincup and Mostert then pitted on the nineteenth lap, the Triple Eight Holden losing track position to McLaughlin through the pit sequence.
Coulthard then pitted from the lead one lap later: narrowly merging on to the track just in front of McLaughlin – who was hindered by slower traffic as the leader stopped. His troubles didn’t stop there, either, a delay behind Hazelwood dropping him into the clutches of a motivated Whincup.
Through the pit stop sequence van Gisbergen had assumed the race lead with he, Davison, Reynolds and Slade those starting in the top-10 who elected to run longer before stopping.
Reynolds stopped at exactly half race distance, re-joining in clean air behind Holdsworth – who stopped early – and in front of De Silvestro in a net 12th position.
Van Gisbergen pitted from the lead a lap later, another to lose ground to the early stoppers as he resumed in 10th position.
With stops complete, Coulthard led McLaughlin by 2 seconds with Whincup, Mostert and Percat the top five.
Van Gisbergen, however, was on fresher rubber and also on a charge, quickly passing the pair of Tickford Racing teammates – Holdsworth first, then Waters – to climb back into the top six.
He quickly dealt with Percat, in fifth, on the 34th lap to move to fifth and set about reducing the six-second margin to Mostert. Attention then turned to the battle for third, Mostert closing on a struggling Whincup in the later stages of the race, the Tickford Mustang slipping past with seven laps remining at turn six.
Van Gisbergen then rapidly closed on Whincup in a close inter-team battle for fourth position. After an early call to let the Kiwi through was reversed, Whincup defended firmly to hold his fourth position to the line.
Behind the top five, Will Davison finished a racy sixth, Nick Percat seventh and Cam Waters eighth. His Tickford teammate Lee Holdsworth ensured every Mustang finished inside the top-10 while David Reynolds battled home to 10th.
Simona De Silvestro completed her best race of the season, finishing 12th having taken advantage of the track position gain from stopping early.
Chaz Mostert left Barbagallo with a new Supercars lap record, thanks to his 53.9317s effort on lap 20. Every single car lapped under the existing lap record during the race.
McLaughlin now leads Coulthard by 112 points in the championship ahead of race 12 on Saturday, with Mostert retaining third in the standings. Whincup was the big mover, climbing to seventh position.