Chaz Mostert has taken his first win in over a year and the first of the year for Prodrive after a massive overnight rethink at Phillip Island.
The Ford driver gave Rod Nash Racing its first win since 2015 as he took the victory ahead of his team-mate and an ex-team mate.
Scott McLaughlin took his second pole of the weekend , heading another DJR Team Penske front row lock-out ahead of Jamie Whincup and Mark Winterbottom.
It was again Coulthard who got the best jump off the line, beating McLaughlin to turn one ahead of Whincup and Winterbottom. While everyone got through turn one without drama, the problems started at the Southern Loop.
Contact between Nick Percat, Jason Bright and Will Davison led to the Tekno driver being beached in the gravel. Scott Pye was also involved but ended up being able to return to the track.
With the safety car deployed, all cars but McLaughlin came in to the pits for tyres and fuel. Some had to double stack as the narrow Phillip Island pit lane didn’t cause any major drama for the front runners.
The restart saw McLaughlin open up a sizeable gap to Coulthard who was easily keeping the cars of Whincup, Mostert and Winterbottom at bay. Shane van Gisbergen had to fight his way up through the pack, struggling to crack the top ten.
McLaughlin made his green flag stop on lap 18, spending a lot of stationary time in the box thanks to the higher fuel load going onboard his car.
Taz Douglas had a tyre failure coming in to turn one, going through the gravel and coming to a stop in the grass. Michael Caruso was the next affected, popping a right rear as was the flavour of Saturday.
The first of the big heads to tumble was van Gisbergen, giving his entry for “save of the year” after his tyre let go coming through turn three. He kept it on the tarmac and limped the wounded car back to the lane.
Whincup had a nearly identical failure a lap later, he too having to crawl back for fresh tyres while the rear guard was torn apart. The debris on the road left race control no choice but to deploy the safety car again.
Out of the drivers who stopped, Lowndes was one of the worst affected, dropping a spot to Winterbottom while his team made adjustments to the rear geometry of the suspension. He came in on the second safety car lap, dropping in more fuel to make the fuel requirement.
Coulthard followed suit the next lap, making his minimum drop as the Red Bulls and several others adopted the same strategy. McLaughlin stayed out given his larger fuel fill earlier on though still needing around 35 litres to make the end.
Whincup and van Gisbergen again came in to the pits to take on more fuel during the final full safety car lap, looking to make it to the end with the only worry remaining about tyres.
Coulthard was given a pit lane penalty for disobeying the red light at the end of pit lane when he exited after his stop. He took the penalty on the lap it was handed down, getting it out of the way and rejoining far from the pack.
McLaughlin took his final stop of the race on lap 41, taking fuel and tyres until the finish while a mild bit of panel damage was sorted. He relegated lead of the race to Mostert who was fuelled to the end.
With just over twelve laps to go, a larger portion of McLaughlin’s rear bumper came loose, flailing in the wind and under the watchful eyes of race control. Caruso had a similar issue, his rear bar waving to the crowd.
James Courtney pitted from third on lap 46, taking tyres and fuel though coming out behind the DJR Team Penske cars and Tim Slade. His stop moved David Reynolds up to the final podium spot.
Lowndes suffered his first tyre failure in a race over the weekend with five laps to go, his right front letting go as it did in Friday practice. His failure saw all three Triple Eight cars suffer tyre failures a day after they were one of very few teams to get away with it.
In the same lap, McLaughlin managed to get past both van Gisbergen and Whincup, moving himself up on the points but more importantly, making sure they got less as Coulthard entered the race as points leader.
The Nissan camp had to deal with friendly fire as Todd Kelly and Michael Caruso had a hearty battle, coming together at the Honda hairpin with Rick Kelly getting past them both on the inside.
Mostert held the lead to the line, taking his first victory since August 2015 ahead of Winterbottom and Reynolds. Coulthard was able to get past Whincup but only just remained behind van Gisbergen at the finish, still leading the points table at the end of the round.
Image credit Prodrive Racing Australia
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