A time-certain finish in this year’s Sandown 500 has seen Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway claim their first Supercars main series wins.
For only the second time in the history of the Sandown 500, a red flag was thrown out at the start of the race, the shortened race helping the Prodrive young guns to take their first Supercars Championship race wins.
Yesterday’s qualifying races saw high drama, the most notable incident being Todd Hazelwood’s massive crash at the end of the back straight. He was spun by a failed pass from Jonathon Webb, sending them both into the wall but writing off the #21 entry for the weekend thanks to a crash that saw the car record a deceleration from 185km/h to zero in 0.6 seconds.
After the first race, it was Cam Waters who put his Falcon on pole with Richie Stanaway for Sunday’s feature race. The combined car of Scott McLaughlin and Alex Prémat lined up second with David Reynolds/Luke Youlden, Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell and Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen completing the top five. Shane van Gisbergen and Matt Campbell would start 21st with Lowndes and Richards starting second last.
For the start of the race, a majority of the co-drivers started the cars with the exception of the #97 with van Gisbergen and the #888 of Craig Lowndes. Both main drivers elected to take to the grid, looking to make up spots against theoretically weaker drivers.
Stanaway got the best run off the start line, leading in to Turn 1 ahead of Prémat. Dumbrell followed through, coming past Youlden for third spot. Further jostling for positions continued with Canto being spun at Turn 4, ending up in the grass but able to rejoin.
The first lap couldn’t be completed before the Safety Car was deployed, after Taz Douglas buried the #3 LD Motorsport Commodore into the notorious Turn 6 wall on the opening tour of the circuit. The damage to the barrier meant the red flag had to be put out for the second time in two days.
After an hour long delay with the race now guaranteed to go time certain, Stanaway led the pack to the green flag and completed the opening lap of the restart with no dramas, allowing everyone to settle in to a rhythm. Steve Owen passed Chris Pither for fifth on Lap 8, moving the #55 closer to the front pack.
Dumbrell made a move for second on Lap 9, trying to pass Prémat at Dandenong Road but running wide and allowing the #17 to criss-cross back to regain the spot. The squabble also allowed Youlden to get closer to them, making it a three-way fight for second.
Van Gisbergen continued to make hay while the sun was shining, getting two spots in one lap to move himself in to sixth, passing Tony D’Alberto and Chris Pither in a matter of corners. Owen escorted Youlden off at Dandenong road, the Erebus car losing a handful of spots as the Prodrive machine moved up to fourth.
While Stanaway led, Dumbrell made the pass on Prémat for second, finally making it stick and looking to catch up to the leader.
The #62 LDM car was the first to pit, taking on tyres and fuel but one wheel was incorrectly put on, coming off when the car rejoined the race track. This incident earned the team a $5000 fine, a 30-point deduction from the Teams’ Championship and a drive-through penalty.
Owen was the first of the lead pack to pit, having to take a five-second penalty for his contact with Youlden. The leading cars of Stanaway and Dumbrell came in to the pits on Lap 21 nose-to-tail, with the #88 car able to get the jump out of the pits thanks to a shorter fuel fill.
D’Alberto and Youlden came in the next lap, followed by Prémat and van Gisbergen on the next circuit. The latter jumped out of his car so co-driver Matt Campbell could get his minimum laps in.
With everyone’s first stops completed, the race order was Dumbrell (#88), Stanaway (#6), Prémat (#17) , Campbell (#97) and D’Alberto (#12). As expected, Dumbrell started to stretch out the lead while the duo of Prémat and Campbell started to exchange similar lap times, fighting for the final podium spot.
Dumbrell came in from the race lead on Lap 35, limping back to the pits for a new set of tyres after a sudden right-rear puncture. This left Stanaway in the lead while the #88 dropped to the last of the lead lap runners, forcing the Triple Eight crew into rethinking their strategy for the remainder of the race.
A fierce battle between Youlden and Canto lasted for a number of laps, with both losing spots in the process. Campbell stopped on Lap 54, staying in the car to reach his minimum number of laps. Stanaway and Prémat came in the next lap, swapping for the main drivers in Waters and McLaughlin respectively.
Lap 54 became the trigger for pit stops, being the earliest point at which the co-drivers could come in to swap over to the main drivers for the remaining race distance. With the round of stops competed, Waters assumed the lead of the race ahead of McLaughlin, Campbell, Walsh, Coulthard and Tander.
On Lap 59 Jamie Whincup was finally installed in the #88 car, and despite a long stop due to an awkward driver change he remained on the lead lap, albeit quite a long way back from the leaders. Mostert kept setting fastest laps, clawing back time on the leaders after his car was given a penalty earlier in the race.
Lap 69 saw the second tyre failure of the race, this time the right front of the #9 Erebus machine being driven by Reynolds. His unscheduled stop took him out of the top ten and forced the team to put race tape on the front guard.
The Nissan of Todd Kelly picked up an unintentional sponsor after going off the road, collecting one of the Dunlop signs which blocked the front of the Altima, heating the engine up in the process. The problem was resolved by Kelly pulling off to the side of the road, allowing the sign to fall off and letting him get back to the racing.
Walkinshaw Racing was left to consolidate their day after the #02 car was parked at the 80-lap mark; a stuck throttle left them no choice but to come in and try to resolve the issue. The problem almost took both of their cars out of the race when Courtney and Pye made contact in the last corners.
Mostert was the first of the leading pack to take his final stop on Lap 84, filling up to make the finish. The battle at the front between Waters and McLaughlin heated up at the front, with the two separated by only a few car lengths ahead of the pit stops.
Van Gisbergen was again put in to the #97 on Lap 86, doing a driver change, brake pad change and a fuel fill to the finish in a rapid pit stop. The next lap saw Waters come in with McLaughlin staying out. A bungled front wheel change thanks to a stuffed wheel nut raised heart rates but everything was changed before the fuel fill was done.
McLaughlin stopped next, with green tyres being fitted he was released slightly behind the #15 Nissan in the pit lane. The momentary delay was enough to ensure he emerged behind Waters on the race track and was held up for nearly a lap trying to overtake the Nissan. The effective race order became Waters, McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, Mostert, Coulthard, Tander, Holdsworth, Whincup (out of sequence) and Slade.
The backmarkers started to play a part in the race, Waters being held up for nearly a full lap by Wood as McLaughlin was then held up as much by Caruso, both times the blue flags were shown well in advance of the position being given up. The problem was eventually resolved, allowing the lead battle to resume.
Van Gisbergen became the second Triple Eight car to suffer a tyre failure, losing the right front tyre on the approach to Turn 1. This meant Mostert moved up in to third as the #97 had to limp back to the pits, losing many spots on track and emerging from his impromptu stop in 17th.
The gap at the front ebbed and flowed in the closing minutes as McLaughlin gave his tyres a reprieve, using the pace to close up to Waters in the dying laps of the race. Tander closed up to Coulthard behind them, putting the pressure on late in the race for fourth place, getting past on the last lap.
At the conclusion of the 125 lap race, it was Waters who took the flag, winning his first main game race with Richie Stanaway who contributed heavily to the cause. McLaughlin had to settle for second with Prémat while Mostert finished a distant third to bag the final podium spot with Owen.
Tander managed to hold on for fourth ahead of Coulthard. A good recovery drive saw Whincup finish sixth after their earlier tyre dramas while Moffat, Holdsworth, Slade and Winterbottom rounded out the top ten though there were question marks over Slade’s co-driver Ash Walsh and the number of laps completed.
|2017 Australian Supercars Wilson Security Sandown 500 – Race 19 Final Classification (125 laps)|
|Pos||Driver / Co-Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Cameron Waters / Richie Stanaway||Monster Energy Racing||3:31:35.785|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin / Alexandre Premat||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 0.675|
|3.||Chaz Mostert / Steve Owen||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 22.575|
|4.||Garth Tander / James Golding||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 27.168|
|5.||Fabian Coulthard / Tony D’Alberto||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 27.720|
|6.||Jamie Whincup / Paul Dumbrell||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 36.396|
|7.||James Moffat / Richard Muscat||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 37.339|
|8.||Lee Holdsworth / Karl Reindler||Preston Hire Racing||+ 38.776|
|9.||Tim Slade / Ash Walsh||Freightliner Racing||+ 42.519|
|10.||Mark Winterbottom / Dean Canto||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 43.940|
|11.||James Courtney / Jack Perkins||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||+ 47.230|
|12.||Craig Lowndes / Steven Richards||TeamVortex||+ 57.638|
|13.||Will Davison / Jonathon Webb||TEKNO Woodstock Racing||+ 1:09.604|
|14.||Dale Wood / Chris Pither||Erebus GB Galvanising Racing||+ 1 lap|
|15.||Rick Kelly / David Wall||Sengled Racing||+ 1 lap|
|16.||Shane van Gisbergen / Matt Campbell||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 1 lap|
|17.||Jason Bright / Garry Jacobson||MEGA Racing||+ 1 lap|
|18.||Todd Kelly / Jack Le Brocq||Carsales Racing||+ 1 lap|
|19.||David Reynolds / Luke Youlden||Erebus Penrite Racing||+ 1 lap|
|20.||Simona de Silvestro / David Russell||Team Harvey Norman||+ 1 lap|
|21.||Michael Caruso / Dean Fiore||Nissan Motorsport||+ 2 laps|
|22.||Scott Pye / Warren Luff||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||+ 12 laps|
|23.||Nick Percat / Macauley Jones||Mongrel Boots Racing||+ 16 laps|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry|
|DNF.||Alex Rullo / Alex Davison||Repair Management Racing||Wheel|
|DNF.||Aaren Russell / Taz Douglas||Plus Fitness Racing||Accident|
|DNS.||Tim Blanchard / Todd Hazelwood||Team Cooldrive|
Image via Prodrive Racing Australia