The quick combo of Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen have proven their worth in the wet, taking out the first race of the weekend at the Gold Coast 600.
In wet and slippery conditions, an early incident didn’t deter one of the category’s best rain drivers and one of the more experienced co-drivers from taking the victory.
Under dark skies and on a track soaked with water, the field of co-drivers proved their skill by making it through the opening lap incident free, Luke Youlden proving to be the big mover by making up seven spots.
Early drama came for the #17 with Premat spinning to avoid Reindler, getting tagged and rejoining way down the order.
Andre Heimgartner was able to punch above his weight early on, keeping on the tail of the leading cars of Steve Owen and Paul Dumbrell, putting in the fastest lap in the process and soon taking the lead of the race on lap 8.
Garry Jacobson was starting to make hay further back in the pack, going up ten positions in under ten laps while setting the fastest lap in difficult conditions.
Jacobson made it up to fifth place before being the first driver to pit on lap 16, taking on fuel but leaving the warm wet tyres on the #56 Ford.
While Heimgartner checked out at the front of the race, the battle for second continued between Owen and Dumbrell, the pair going side by side multiple times but not able to swap spots.
The squabble for second saw Richie Stanaway close up on a possible podium, dragging the Sandown winning car up in to contention while the cars ahead fought each other.
Contact between Dumbrell and Owen saw the latter spin at the first chicane after the #88 car came in too hot, allowing Stanaway to move in to second, dropping Owen to fifth and earning Dumbrell a 15 second time penalty.
With the minimum number of laps completed for the co-drivers, a majority of the lead pack including Dumbrell, Richards and Owen came in to install the main drivers.
Shane Van Gisbergen took the reigns of the #97 and the Bathurst champions in the #9 car had dramas, unable to open the driver’s door which meant Youlden had to jump out, and Reynolds had to get in, through the window.
Heimgartner pitted from the lead on lap 38, handing the car over to Tim Slade while Stanaway came in to switch over to Waters in the #6.
A flying Mostert started to put in fastest laps while Waters started to chip away at Slade’s lead, closing in at around a second a lap.
Turn one claimed another two victims with Todd Kelly losing control, hitting Garth Tander then the wall, unable to stop which caused damage to his car.
Jacobson’s decent stint ended on lap 54 when he brought the car in for fuel and a tyre change, Jason Bright taking the reigns of the #56 until the end.
The first safety car of the race was deployed on lap 55 when Lee Holdsworth collected one of the tyre barriers after getting crossed up on the back straight chicane, the tyres ending up on the road.
In the stops, Waters jumped to the lead after Mostert and Slade had issues with wheel nuts, the most harm coming to the ex-leading car who dropped to third in track order.
Under the threat of a time-certain finish, the race restarted on lap 62 with Waters leading the way, having a big moment at the back of the circuit on cold tyres but still leading from Mostert.
The settled and speedy #55 took the lead a lap after the restart, driving past Waters who wasn’t in his groove and starting to come under siege from Slade, Caruso and Whincup.
Shane Van Gisbergen started to make up spots, getting past team-mate Lowndes which put him behind his fellow Triple Eight driver, Jamie Whincup.
It looked to be a tough day at the office for the top two championship contenders in Whincup and Coulthard, both struggling for speed in the latter part of the race with four cars between them.
The troubles compounded for Coulthard as he spun Percat who was trying to avoid the tyre wall himself, earning the championship leader a 15 second penalty for the contact.
With just under 20 minutes to go, Van Gisbergen continued his charge for a podium spot, moving up to fourth after passing Caruso and starting to hunt Slade.
Mostert was able to seal the win, finishing the race on lap 94 ahead of Waters and Slade who was able to keep Van Gisbergen behind for third. Caruso, Whincup, Lowndes, Winterbottom, Bright and Rick Kelly rounded out the top ten.
A hard day at the office was cemented for DJR Team Penske, McLaughlin finishing 12th while Coulthard’s penalty dropped the points leader to 19th.
Coulthard leads Whincup by 37 points, McLaughlin by 76 and Mostert by 121 with Van Gisbergen still within a round off the lead.
Pic via Castrol
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