Scott McLaughlin has snatched a surprise victory in the final race of the Phillip Island 400, his second of the weekend. The Volvo driver claimed the win on the sprint to the checquered flag when long-time leader Garth Tander ran out of fuel.
Having led for much of the race, Tander looked set to cruise to victory in his HRT Holden after a superior pit stop strategy proved enough to get him ahead of McLaughlin after the first round of pit stops.
McLaughlin, Tander and pole-winner Jamie Whincup had a tense opening lap, which saw McLaughlin’s Volvo assume the lead after muscling his way by Whincup through the Southern Loop. Tander followed suit and – despite a late braking lunge – was unable to get by McLaughlin to claim the lead for himself.
The pair shadowed each other through the opening stint and with each car required to take 120 litres of fuel over the course of the race, pit strategy was going to be crucial in determining the outcome of the race.
A number of runners opted to pit on the opening lap, with James Courtney and Craig Lowndes (who’d qualified well down the order) opting for an alternate strategy by pitting early.
Tander and Whincup both pitted on Lap 9 and McLaughlin’s Volvo crew was forced to respond a lap later; Tander’s in/out-lap runs were better, allowing him to leapfrog McLaughlin as the Kiwi emerged from the pits.
Just five laps later and the Safety Car was called onto the circuit thanks to a slide into the final corner gravel trap for David Wall; the Dick Johnson Racing driver’s Ford suffered a front steering failure, but he was able to get going under his own power.
The entire field elected to pit during what was ultimately a questionable decision to call the Safety Car, but there was frantic action as a number of teams were forced to queue their drivers in a crowded pit bay. In the chaos, David Reynolds had his race ruined thanks to an unsafe pit release, and he was served with a drive/through penalty when the race resumed.
The race resumed with Tander and McLaughlin out in front ahead of Winterbottom, who’d jumped Whincup in the second phase of pit stops.
With an almost thirty-lap run to the chequered flag, the focus on fuel economy became more apparent as McLaughlin started to turn up the wick and chase down Tander. The pair were separated by inches over the final few laps, with Tander coolly keeping a spirited McLaughlin behind.
But it all came down to the final few hundred metres. With the finish line in sight, Tander’s Holden coughed its last and a jubilant McLaughlin snuck through to claim his second win of the weekend and the fourth of his season.
Winterbottom completed the podium, holding off Whincup, while Shane van Gisbergen finished fifth.
2014 V8 Supercars Phillip Island 400 – Race 35 Results (45 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||1:13:59.692|
|2.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 0.452|
|3.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 4.982|
|4.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 5.395|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||+ 13.000|
|6.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 16.366|
|7.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||+ 20.046|
|8.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||+ 20.400|
|9.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 21.309|
|10.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 22.319|
|11.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 23.190|
|12.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 26.185|
|13.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 26.634|
|14.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 27.266|
|15.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 27.653|
|16.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 28.122|
|17.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 28.804|
|18.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 29.989|
|19.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 31.608|
|20.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||+ 40.941|
|21.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||+ 41.278|
|22.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 43.664|
|23.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||+ 53.729|
|24.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||+ 1:15.458|
|DNF.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||15 laps|
Image via Polestar Racing