James Courtney and co-driver Jack Perkins have claimed a fairytale victory at the second and final race of the Castrol Gold Coast 600, in what was the former’s comeback from serious mid-season injuries.
The Holden Racing Team duo became the first drivers in the history of the race at Surfers Paradise to win after starting from outside the first three rows of the grid. They worked their way up from eleventh place and, thanks to a brave strategy call not to pit during a Safety Car interruption, an unlikely victory was ultimately secured.
Conventional three-stop strategies were thrown awry thanks to the sudden dispatch of the Safety Car just before the traditional window where a third and final pit stop would be made.
The majority of runners headed to the pits for a tyre change and fuel top-up, but nearly everyone’s fuel calculations suggested that a fourth splash-and-dash’ stop would be required in order to make the chequered flag.
The HRT crew and Courtney elected to avoid this stop and gain track position, hoping that he would be able to drag his fuel consumption out long enough to see him through.
The opening stanza of the race saw a terrific battle for the lead between the Red Bull Racing Holden of Craig Lowndes / Steven Richards and the Volvo Polestar Racing S60 of Scott McLaughlin / Alexandre Prémat.
While the Volvo duo had secured an emphatic pole position in qualifying, it was co-driver Richards who rocketed off the line to outdrag Prémat into the first corner and an early lead.
The pair ran in close company through to the first pit stops and the traditional driver change, leaving Lowndes and McLaughlin to continue the fight in their first stints in the car. McLaughlin was ultimately never able to get close enough to Lowndes to have a real shot at taking the lead, but both would eventually lose valuable positions as a result of having to make late pit stops for extra fuel. They finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The Courtney / Perkins pairing aside, another combination to try the risky pit strategy was the Nissan of Rick Kelly and David Russell; the pair made the call work to move up to second place, crossing the finish line just two seconds behind the winning HRT Holden.
It was a great race for the HRT stable, with the #2 entry of Garth Tander / Warren Luff finishing third to give them the Pirtek Enduro Cup title – it was Luff’s second triumph since winning the inaugural trophy alongside Craig Lowndes two years’ previously.
The final podium spot perhaps should have gone to the TEKNO Holden of Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb, but van Gisbergen lost out badly in the final round of pit stops and had to be held in his pit bay while other drivers cycled through the pit lane. The Saturday race-winners would finish in fifth place and claim runner-up spot in the Pirtek standings.
Championship leader Mark Winterbottom improved – if you can call it that – on a disastrous Saturday race, finishing a frustrated eleventh after starting the race in fifth place.
With his chief championship rival Lowndes finishing ahead of him for the third race in a row, Winterbottom’s championship lead has been trimmed further to 258 points over the series veteran. With three championship rounds to go – each offering a maximum of 300 points – there is still plenty to play for.
The next round of the V8 Supercars Championship season takes place at Pukekohe Raceway in New Zealand on November 6-8.
|2015 V8 Supercars Castrol Gold Coast 600 – Race 27 Final Classification (102 laps)|
|Pos||Driver / Co-Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||James Courtney / Jack Perkins||Holden Racing Team||102||2:14:20.426|
|2.||Rick Kelly / David Russell||Nissan Motorsport||102||+ 1.993|
|3.||Garth Tander / Warren Luff||Holden Racing Team||102||+ 5.677|
|4.||Craig Lowndes / Steven Richards||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||102||+ 11.259|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen / Jonathon Webb||TEKNO Autosports||102||+ 14.523|
|6.||Scott McLaughlin / Alexandre Premat||Polestar GRM Volvo||102||+ 15.142|
|7.||Jamie Whincup / Paul Dumbrell||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||102||+ 15.633|
|8.||James Moffat / Taz Douglas||Nissan Motorsport||102||+ 15.869|
|9.||David Reynolds / Dean Canto||The Bottle-O Racing Team||102||+ 18.676|
|10.||Michael Caruso / Dean Fiore||Nissan Motorsport||102||+ 21.439|
|11.||Mark Winterbottom / Steve Owen||Prodrive Racing Australia||102||+ 22.508|
|12.||Tim Slade / Tony D’Alberto||Walkinshaw Performance||102||+ 29.462|
|13.||Fabian Coulthard / Luke Youlden||Brad Jones Racing||102||+ 29.954|
|14.||Lee Holdsworth / Sébastien Bourdais||Walkinshaw Performance||102||+ 30.358|
|15.||Nick Percat / Oliver Gavin||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||102||+ 32.517|
|16.||Will Davison / Alex Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||102||+ 40.106|
|17.||Todd Kelly / Alex Buncombe||Nissan Motorsport||102||+ 50.005|
|18.||Andre Heimgartner / Ant Pedersen||Super Black Racing||102||+ 52.530|
|19.||Cameron Waters / Russell Ingall||Prodrive Racing Australia||102||+ 55.928|
|20.||Dale Wood / Macauley Jones||Brad Jones Racing||102||+ 56.188|
|21.||Scott Pye / Marcos Ambrose||DJR Team Penske||102||+ 1:20.693|
|22.||Tim Blanchard / Karl Reindler||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||101||+ 1 lap|
|23.||Jason Bright / Andrew Jones||Brad Jones Racing||97||+ 5 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|DNF.||David Wall / Chris Pither||Polestar GRM Volvo||6||Collision|
|DNF.||Ash Walsh / Jack Le Brocq||Erebus Motorsport V8||1||Damage|
Image via V8 Supercars