Supercheap Auto Racing Team’s Chaz Mostert took victory in the second and final 250km race at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, breaking an almost two-year drought between race victories.
Mostert’s Ford Prodrive racing teammate, Mark Winterbottom, followed him across the line with David Reynolds recording his first podium finish of the season, coming in third for Erebus Motorsport Holden.
It proved another strange day after the tyre concerns on Saturday, especially for the New Zealand drivers.
Scott McLaughlin, who again earned pole alongside Shell V-Power teammate and Kiwi compatriot Fabian Coulthard, but he stayed out in the lead when everyone else pitted for an early safety car, banking on tyre wear for the others late in the race, which did not happen.
Coulthard assumed the mantle at the front of the field until he was pinged for going back on to the track under a red light.
And current Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen also finished down the field after both he and teammate Jamie Whincup suffered from blown tyres despite a conservative race strategy.
Despite the bizarre nature of today’s race at Phillip Island, with the title front-runners pushed to the back of the field, Coulthard remains in the lead of the championship.
After finishing 17th today with a drive-through penalty and following his win on Saturday, Coulthard was frustrated.
“We had quick cars, and I’m disappointed in the fact that we couldn’t capitalise on that today. That guts me the most,” Coulthard said.
“I made an error. I’ve been racing Supercars for a long time now, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a red light at the end of pit lane during a race. To be honest, I still didn’t see it. I have to cop that, and that’s life.
“I’m glad to still be leading the Championship, but it could have been so much better. Our competition had a bad run today, and we have to take advantage on those days, and we didn’t.”
Coulthard leads the championship by just seven points from Kiwi compatriot Shane van Gisbergen, who was 16th today after succumbing to tyre issues.
Mostert’s win saw him jump to third with Scott McLaughlin now in fifth, after he lost out on the wrong side of a safety car to finish 14th despite being the fastest car and starting on pole.
“It’s been long enough,” said Mostert, who won a non-championship race at the Australian Grand Prix in March.
“It means a lot to win straight away after making a couple of mistakes in Tassie.
“It was probably nine laps out and I thought gee that’s a long way to get home on these set of tyres.
“There was always the worry about what happened yesterday but I just thought to myself you know the guys back in the garage have given me the best car they can come up with and the best thing is to look after these tyres.
“It’s a credit to all the guys who after blowing two right-rears yesterday turned the car upside down. The whole win is on those guys.”
James Moffat, Lee Holdsworth, Cameron Waters, Garth Tander, Dale Wood, Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso made up an unlikely top 10.
“Good for the championship,” said Winterbottom.
“It’s going to close the gap up and confine it a bit. It’s good for everyone watching.”
Reynolds says his Holden felt great over the final laps of the race as he powered to his first podium finish of 2017.
“We have had a massive learning curve last year and its just going from strength to strength,” he said.
“We built some bits for this weekend they arrived on Thursday night to try and improve the car. They didn’t fit so we will have to wait to next round to try them.
“It’s an ever-evolving game, we are revisiting ideas we looked at last year so yeah it’s just ever evolving.”
The next round of Supercars will be held in Perth from 5-7 May.