Chaz Mostert has made it two wins out of three races at the Sydney Motorsport Park by claiming victory in an incident-filled and weather-affected V8 Supercars Feature Race.
The Prodrive Racing driver started the 200-kilometre race from third position, but vaulted into the lead thanks to a quick pit stop during an early Safety Car period. Despite a downpour of rain later on, he had an untroubled run to the flag and, in doing so, stamped his authority as a serious championship contender.
There was plenty of drama in the opening laps. Scott McLaughlin’s pole position advantage lasted all of a two laps before the Safety Car was called to deal with an opening-lap collision between the New Zealander’s Polestar GRM Volvo teammate David Wall and Nissan’s Todd Kelly.
Both suffered deranged steering in the contact and lost several laps getting repairs in the pits, but the early full-course caution sent everyone else scurrying into the pits to get one of two compulsory tyre/fuel stops out of the way.
McLaughlin missed his pit bay by just enough to cause his crew to lose time repositioning the heavy fuel equipment, and that was enough for Mostert to slot into a lead he would keep for the rest of the race.
Two drivers – Ash Walsh in the Erebus Mercedes AMG and HRT stand-in Jack Perkins – had elected to pit at the end of the opening lap from the back of the pack, and in doing so they managed to vault into third and fourth while everyone else lost time pitting under Safety Car conditions. Neither ultimately had the pace to remain in serious contention as the race wore on, with Walsh in particular getting hit with a pit lane drive-through penalty for jumping a subsequent safety car restart.
The race saw plenty of wheel-to-wheel action as a number of faster, out-of-position, runners worked their way back through the field after slow pit stops. Jason Bright was one such aggressor in the Brad Jones Holden, as was teammate Fabian Coulthard.
Those two were major beneficiaries when the widely-predicted rain storms decided to make an appearance midway through the race, and that forced everyone to head into the pits for wet-weather tyres.
Coulthard moved into second place behind Mostert in the shake-out, while Bright managed to work his way ahead of David Reynolds and Scott McLaughlin to be lying in third.
The damp, low-grip conditions proved to be the perfect environment for the grid’s true rain-master Shane van Gisbergen, who quickly set about carving his way up the field in the slippery conditions. He was miles quicker than Bright ahead of him, despite making some risky moves of dropping two wheels off-track down the start/finish straight to cool his overheating tyres at over 250km/h!
With a few laps to run, van Gisbergen was right on the back bumper of Bright. The TEKNO Autosports driver tried to pass his fellow Holden runner, but Bright turned across his nose and was tipped into a spin. Bright returned to the track by taking a shortcut in the circuit’s infield, and drove slowly enough to mitigate the clear advantage that move had given him, as well as to allow van Gisbergen by.
Sportingly, van Gisbergen refused to take the final podium spot, having accepted his responsibility for the collision between the pair. After the ugly displays and arguments by some of their peers the day before, it was refreshing to see.
The stewards elected not to amend the pair’s finishing position, and so McLaughlin was left to cross the line in fifth place ahead of David Reynolds Ford. Michael Caruso finished in seventh place as the best of the Nissans, ahead of the Holdens of Tim Slade Nick Percat and Craig Lowndes.
Championship leader Mark Winterbottom had a dreadful day and finished sixteenth after getting shoved off the circuit by Lowndes in the worst of the wet weather. With teammate Mostert claiming almost maximum points from the weekend, Winterbottom’s championship lead was trimmed by 93 points to a margin of 174.
The V8 Supercars Championship continues on September 12-13 with the Sandown 500 kicking off the first of three Pirtek Enduro Cup races.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprint – Race 23 Top-10 Finishers (50 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Chaz Mostert||Prodrive Racing||1:28:29.569|
|2.||Fabian Coulthard||Brad Jones Racing||+ 7.657|
|3.||Jason Bright||Brad Jones Racing||+ 13.365|
|4.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO Autosports||+ 14.964|
|5.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 16.509|
|6.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 20.917|
|7.||Michael Caruso||Erebus Motorsport V8||+ 21.129|
|8.||Tim Slade||Walkinshaw Performance||+ 23.650|
|9.||Nick Percat||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||+ 27.199|
|10.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Triple 8||+ 28.312|
Image via V8 Supercars Championship