Craig Lowndes may have ensured that the Red Bull Racing Australia team secured back-to-back wins on the streets of Adelaide, but there were many more cheers for the new Volvo Polestar Racing squad, which claimed a podium finish at the hands of Scott McLaughlin.
Having secured a sensational front-row qualifying slot on the Volvo S60’s first race outing, McLaughlin was unable to jump into the lead over polesitter Lowndes, and fell behind the former champion’s teammate Jamie Whincup on the opening lap.
But the young Kiwi’s fortunes improved courtesy of a slow pit stop for Whincup, while his own tour through pit lane was perfectly timed with a Safety Car interruption which ensured he was back up to second place behind Lowndes, who had skipped away into an early lead at the start.
Whincup had recovered up to fourth place by the time the Safety Car was called, and when racing resumed he made short work of getting by Mark Winterbottom’s Ford before zooming up on the back of McLaughlin’s Volvo.
For almost 20 laps, Whincup remained glued to the back of McLaughlin, but he could do nothing about finding a way by the youngster, who drove with an assured sense of calm that belied his inexperience.
Second place was clearly the only option for McLaughlin, but it seemed to slip through his fingers on the final lap as Whincup made a last-ditch effort into Turn 9 as he tried a passing move around the outside of the right-hand hairpin.
McLaughlin could have forced Whincup over the exit kerbs and off the circuit, but he played fair. The pair rain side-by-side through the next two left-handers, with Whincup holding the outside line to move ahead with just three corners of the race left.
And while Lowndes cruised to victory and the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, Whincup was just a few inches off-line on the approach to the final corner and slithered wide at the exit: it was all the invitation McLaughlin needed to nip through on the apex and retake the position, much to the cheers of the 80,000-strong crowd in attendance in the fading light.
For the entire Volvo-GRM team, it was a fitting reward for a Hurculean effort to ready the new car during the off-season, and the achievement – not surprisingly – proved too much for McLaughlin, who swore on live TV during his immediate post-race interview in the pit lane, and then burst into tears during the open press conference after the podium ceremony.
“It has just been a massive milestone for Volvo, Polestar, GRM. The amount of work those boys have done in the off season and they missed a lot of their Christmas.”
McLaughlin – an apprentice fabricator by trade – also chipped in with the build work, no doubt making the result all the more special.
Behind all the cheers for Volvo’s milestone, Winterbottom headed Ford’s charge in a rather distant fourth place, with the Falcon unable to live with the pace of either the Triple 8 Holdens or McLaughlin’s Volvo.
He was followed over the line by Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert and Garth Tander. All four Nissans finished inside the top-twelve, sandwiching Will Davison’s Erebus Mercedes AMG E63.
There was bitter disappointment for local boy Scott Pye, whose maiden outing in the Dick Johnson Racing Ford was ruined when he was punted out of the top-six by Shane van Gisbergen at the Turn 9 hairpin.
Having rightly been issued a drive-through penalty for his troubles, van Gisbergen proved that he still hadn’t found his brain, later tangling with Tim Slade at the same corner with a laughably stupid lunge down the inside of the SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden.
James Courtney and Lee Holdsworth were also left licking their wounds after the pair came together mid-race at Turn 3. Courtney tried an impossible ‘threading the needle’ pass, and succeeded only in mangling his front passenger door, which necessitated a trip through pit lane for his mechanics to convert his car into a ‘Commo-three-door’.
Sunday’s action sees the field tackle the feature 250-kilometre race – preceded by an open and ‘Top-10’ qualifying session apiece – with a further 150 championship points up for grabs for the winner.
2014 V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 Adelaide – Race 2 Final Classification (39 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Craig Lowndes||Triple Eight Holden||56:12.927|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo Polestar Racing||+ 4.733|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Triple Eight Holden||+ 5.551|
|4.||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Performance Racing||+ 14.795|
|5.||Fabian Coulthard||Brad Jones Racing Holden||+ 15.020|
|6.||Chaz Mostert||Ford Performance Racing||+ 15.324|
|7.||Garth Tander||TWR Holden||+ 15.672|
|8.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 24.556|
|9.||Todd Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 25.274|
|10.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport AMG||+ 25.519|
|11.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 26.383|
|12.||James Moffat||Nissan Motorsport||+ 28.351|
|13.||Russell Ingall||Lucas Dumbrell Holden||+ 28.709|
|14.||Tim Slade||TWR Holden||+ 29.627|
|15.||Nick Percat||TWR Holden||+ 34.673|
|16.||Shane van Gisbergen||Tekno Autosports Holden||+ 35.020|
|17.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport AMG||+ 35.781|
|18.||James Courtney||TWR Holden||+ 37.554|
|19.||David Reynolds||Ford Performance Racing||+ 38.062|
|20.||Scott Pye||Dick Johnson Racing Ford||+ 39.875|
|21.||Jason Bright||Brad Jones Racing Holden||+ 45.871|
|22.||Jack Perkins||Ford Performance Racing||+ 46.931|
|23.||Robert Dahlgren||Volvo Polestar Racing||+ 48.787|
|24.||Dale Wood||Brad Jones Racing Holden||+ 1:19.238|
|DNF.||David Wall||Dick Johnson Racing Ford||37 laps|
Images via Fiasco Sports, Fox, V8 Supercars Championship