Fabian Coulthard has beaten his demons and brought an end to his run of bad luck by taking his first Supercars victory this season.
After starting on the front row of the grid, the Kiwi effectively led every lap of the race en route to his first win since Sydney Motorsport Park last year and also the first since becoming a father late last year.
His victory led an all-Kiwi podium, the first in Supercars history.
For the second time in as many races, the DJR Team Penske pair of Scott McLaughlin and Coulthard locked out the front row of the grid. Repeating yesterday’s efforts, Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso started on the second row. An incident between Shane Van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom on their out laps in qualifying saw the pair suffer punctures before ending up seventh and 18th respectively.
Reversing the roles of Saturday’s race, Coulthard launched off the line while McLaughlin bogged down at the start, being stuck on the wrong side of the road until turn five, dropping him back to seventh on the opening lap.
The order soon sorted itself but was just as quickly changed when McLaughlin came in for his pit stop on lap four, emerging in clear air and setting fastest laps. Kelly came in next on lap 10, coming out behind the #17 Ford after taking on more fuel in his stop.
Scott Pye and Jamie Whincup were the next to blink on lap 11, again joining the train behind the Kiwi, as was Caruso on the next tour. Coulthard pitted from the race lead later than most, diving in for his first stop on lap 21 and coming out with decent space to his team-mate.
The order remained largely unchanged at the front between the two pit cycles, becoming stagnant while the final backmarkers pitted to make the leading order clearer.
Rick Kelly became the first of the lead pack to take his second stop on lap 28 while McLaughlin, Caruso and Pye followed on the next lap. McLaughlin was able to keep position and despite coming out ahead of his team-mate and boss, Caruso had to yield when Kelly forced the issue into turn three.
Again Coulthard relegated the race lead for his final stop, taking on the rest of his mandatory fuel load and four tyres, emerging well clear of McLaughlin and the pursuing pack. After the second stops had been completed, Coulthard led from McLaughlin, Van Gisbergen, Kelly, Caruso as the top five.
Van Gisbergen with fresh tyres was easily able to range up on his title rival McLaughlin, passing him on lap 50 for second spot while Coulthard still kept the race lead. Even though Van Gisbergen was putting in the fastest laps of the race in the early part of his stint, the gap plateaued in the closing laps.
Coulthard hung on to win the race ahead of his Kiwi counterparts Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin with the Nissan pairing of Kelly and Caruso finishing behind them. Pye, Slade, Whincup, Richie Stanaway and Chaz Mostert finished in the top then, the first top 10 solo finish for Stanaway who has endured a tough start to the year.
Pic via Shell V-Power Racing Team
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