The final race of the Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 saw Erebus Racing’s David Reynolds became the fourth different winner for the round with Red Bull Holden Racing’s Jamie Whincup securing the Larry Perkins Trophy. Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen continues to lead the overall title chase from Reynolds and Shell V-Power Ford Racing’s Scott McLaughlin.
“We had some good battles today,” commented van Gisbergen, “It started from the car park, I couldn’t see the start lights, which sucked and actually made a big gap to the pack at turn one, so I played it safe and then started picking them off after that.
“We had some really awesome battles coming through, I passed a lot of cars and then unfortunately the safety car cut the race short. I’d saved my tyres actually passing people, so it kind of hurt us a bit because we still had very good pace.
“I think we had a really troublesome weekend on the first two days and then we got the car better. It didn’t fix our qualifying results, but I think we salvaged a good weekend, minimised the points loss and I think we’re still ahead in the championship by a small amount. We did a good job from race one onwards.”
McLaughlin and fellow Kiwi Fabian Coulthard suffered with a mid-race Safety Car intervention nullifying any threat that the Shell V-Power Racing Team cars may have had to make more ground through the pack. Both drivers had a good start, getting through the first turn cleanly with McLaughlin executing a clever pass at Turn 4 to gain two positions on the opening lap. They then ran nose to tail for several laps until Coulthard allowed McLaughlin through to attempt an attack on the Walkinshaw Andretti car of Scott Pye.
“I got another great start, but got boxed in a bit so couldn’t take advantage like I would have liked, but that’s how it goes sometimes.” commented McLaughlin. “It’s good to be getting good consistent starts. It was a pretty good bounceback weekend after a poor start in Adelaide, so I’m looking forward to Tasmania.”
The Safety Car boards and flags were shown not long after, and the cars rolled around behind the Safety Car for four laps while the fire-damaged No.34 of James Golding was removed from the circuit.
When the race went green again the clock had passed the time certain finish limit, and as such it was the final lap of the race. McLaughlin returned the position to Coulthard at the end of the lap, with the latter finishing 6th and McLaughlin 7th. He now sits third in the Drivers’ points, with Coulthard 14th. The team is fourth in the Teams’ points.
The 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues with the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 6-8.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Shane van Gisbergen 486
2. David Reynolds 437
3. Scott McLaughlin 425
4. Chaz Mostert 416
5. Scott Pye 397
6. Jamie Whincup 379
7. James Courtney 375
8. Nick Percat 352
9. Mark Winterbottom 329
10. Cameron Waters 325
14. Fabian Coulthard 308
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Triple Eight Race Engineering 865
2. Walkinshaw Andretti United 772
3. Tickford Racing (Winterbottom/Mostert) 745
4. Shell V-Power Racing Team 733
5. Brad Jones Racing 672
6. Erebus Motorsport 583
7. Nissan NISMO 446
8. Garry Rogers Motorsport 425
9. Tickford Racing (Waters/Stanaway) 399
10. Nissan Motorsport 381