A first and second placings for Red Bull Holden Racing’s Jamie Whincup has propelled him into the top ten overall points table after Races 4 and 5 of the Australian Supercars Championship at Albert Park on Saturday. Scott Pye held off Whincup amid a late shower in Race 5 to claim a maiden Supercars victory in the third leg of the Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400.
It was a mixed day for Shell V-Power Racing Team. The heavens opened early in the day, with pouring rain in the lead up to Race 4. The race was started in extremely wet conditions, with the traditional standing start replaced by a rolling start controlled by the Safety Car. Jamie Whincup got the jump from pole off the start, and maintained his lead across the full race distance. McLaughlin stayed strong in second position from the start and despite some pressure from teammate Fabian Coulthard at points during the race, finished where he started to claim another podium.
“We got off to a good start, we had Scotty’s (Pye) pace at the start there and we selected to stay out when it rained,” commented Whincup. “We read the track conditions and the radar well and made the correct call to stay out.
“Scotty (McLaughlin) went off at the back straight and I was pretty close – I was hoping he got away with it because I got away with it this morning, I would’ve felt bad if I got that one and he didn’t get through his one.
“Well done to Scotty and his crew, they did a great job. Scott made a mistake but defended well and there was just no opportunity to pass; if there was, I would’ve taken it. Our cars aren’t ready for no lights; it would’ve been fine if it was clear skies but because it was gloomy already, the last light is a little bit earlier.”
Race 5 started strongly, with McLaughlin from pole and Coulthard from 7th. McLaughlin lead the opening couple of laps, before making an error at Turn 1 on the second lap. He lost five places, rejoining in sixth, with Fabian elevated up to fourth as a result. Coulthard took his first stop on Lap 10, rejoining in fifth. The issues continued for Car No.17 with a radio failure that lead to McLaughlin missing the call for his opening stop.
The team reverted to a pit board to notify him of the need to pit, and he took the stop on Lap 11, two laps later than planned. Scott slotted into 7th, with Fabian 5th until rain started to fall on lap 20. The team made the call to pit the cars for wet tyres, with both cars rejoining back in the pack. Others took the choice for wet tyres, however the leaders continued on slicks. The rain slowed, and unfortunately the wet tyres proved to be the wrong call.
“I tried to gap the field a bit at the start, and was pushing pretty hard and then I made a blue at Turn 1 and ran wide, and lost a few spots,” commented McLaughlin. “The we had radio dramas, and things just really went downhill from there. It’s a shame, and possibly a win gone begging there. We’ll have another crack in the last race tomorrow.”
The cars continued in train to finish 12th (Coulthard) and 15th (McLaughlin). McLaughlin remains second in the Drivers’ points, with Coulthard 14th. The team is 4th in the Teams’ points.
Shane van Gisbergen still leads the championship after finishing fourth and 13th in both races.
The final race of the weekend is tomorrow 1:45pm local time.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Shane van Gisbergen 464
2. David Reynolds 393
3. Scott McLaughlin 387
4. Chaz Mostert 376
5. James Courtney 375
6. Scott Pye 360
7. Jamie Whincup 336
8. Cameron Waters 312
9. Mark Winterbottom 311
10. Nick Percat 306
14. Fabian Coulthard 274
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Triple Eight Race Engineering 800
2. Walkinshaw Andretti United 735
3. Tickford Racing (Winterbottom/Mostert) 687
4. Shell V-Power Racing Team 667
5. Brad Jones Racing 602
6. Erebus Motorsport 545
7. Garry Rogers Motorsport 397
8. NISMO 397
9. Tickford Racing (Waters/Stanaway) 369
10. Nissan Motorsport 358