Shell V-Power Racing’s Fabian Coulthard claimed his first Australia Supercars Championship race victory in 11 months, beating team-mate Scott McLaughlin in the second leg of the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint. The DJR Team Penske Mustangs were the class of the field, Coulthard jumping polesitter and early leader McLaughlin during the first pitstops. Third home was fellow Kiwi Andre Heimgartner.
“It’s always hard to get the first one, and I’ve got a class teammate,” commented Coulthard. “To take one off him is hard at the best of times, and I’m just so happy for my crew.”
After two more 1-2 efforts across final practice and qualifying to back-up yesterday, both Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard had strong starts and were again side-by-side into Turn 1. McLaughlin slid across in front of Coulthard before beginning to pull away from his teammate.
On lap three McLaughlin set his fastest lap of the race, a 1m30.9920s only four-hundredths off the lap record he set yesterday.
McLaughlin stopped on lap 5 from a 1.5s lead, returning to the circuit in p19 and effective second place behind Cameron Waters who took less than half the fuel load of the No. 17.
Coulthard pitted from the lead of the race on lap 7, with a strong stop from the team seeing him get back on track in front of McLaughlin and in effective fourth place.
It set up a battle between the Shell teammates over the middle stint of the race, as they sat behind Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters and Anton De Pasquale.
All cars in front of the two Shell runners were due to take much longer second stops, which would redress the track position.
Once the first round of pit stops was completed on lap 14 Mostert lead the race from Waters, De Pasquale, Coulthard and McLaughlin.
McLaughlin took his second stop on lap 16, which would be his final stop of the race. This was to take him out of the train of traffic behind Coulthard. He re-joined in p23, as the first driver to take their second stop.
As others took their second stops, Coulthard was elevated to the lead of the race once more on lap 18.
Mostert and Waters pulled out behind McLaughlin as he took advantage of the undercut, however De Pasquale pulled out in front of McLaughlin following second stops, to take the effective lead from the Shell driver.
Coulthard took his final stop on lap 19, re-joining the circuit in front of both De Pasquale and McLaughlin to take p16 and the effective lead. McLaughlin quickly passed De Pasquale at Turn 2 on the same lap, to be effective second behind his teammate.
Coulthard moved out to a one-second lead over McLaughlin as they raced to the front of the pack through the final pit stop phase to lap 28.
All cars had made their final stops by lap 31, with Coulthard moving into the lead of the race, six-tenths in front of McLaughlin, which then grew back out to one-second as the pair managed the gap back to third placed De Pasquale.
By lap 40, Coulthard had the gap out to 1.1 seconds over McLaughlin, with De Pasquale 2.9s back from McLaughlin.
At the end of the race it was Coulthard’s turn to sit on the Iron Throne, as he took his first race win of 2019, with McLaughlin right behind for another 1-2 finish.
McLaughlin continues to lead the Drivers’ points by 124 over Coulthard, with Shell V-Power Racing at the top of the Teams’ points with a 511-point buffer over Triple Eight.