Erebus Motorsports driver David Reynolds has righted the wrongs of Saturday by taking victory in the 200km Sunday race at Hidden Valley.
After qualifying on the second row, the 2015 Darwin winner pulled off the move of the year to take the lead and never looked back, taking his second win of the year and his sixth of his career.
Qualifying saw the top ten sorted through a shootout with Nissan’s Rick Kelly putting his Altima on pole, pipping Scott McLaughlin who joined him on the front row. Jamie Whincup started from third alongside Reynolds on the second row as Nick Percat, Garth Tander, Michael Caruso, Fabian Coulthard, James Courtney and Anton de Pasquale rounded out the ten.
A rocket launch from Reynolds promoted yesterday’s polesitter from fourth all the way up to first thanks to an aggressive sweep around the outside of Kelly and McLaughlin at turn one. The Erebus driver was able to quickly put a gap on the pack in the opening tours.
Surprise stops for Caruso and Percat early in the stint gave them a clear track, paying dividends when Reynolds came in on lap 18. The race leader popped out behind Caruso who had taken on far less fuel in his stop in exchange for track position, soon making up the gap and getting past.
Kelly came in for his stop on the next lap and rejoined behind Percat, being baulked behind the BJR car as McLaughlin stopped on lap 20, emerging behind the pair though both he and the Nissan passed Percat soon after. The effective race order became Reynolds, Kelly, McLaughlin, Whincup and Percat with 40 laps still to run.
McLaughlin’s afternoon in the hot sun became unpleasant with the series leader’s helmet hose detatching, making it an unpleasant race in the cabin even harder. Things became worse at the #17 started smoking heavily while following Kelly, the team reporting engine oil temperatures to be the cause though the symptoms seemed to indicate a transaxle problem.
The championship leader pitted on lap 36 for tyres and fuel, emerging just in front of Whincup who copped a windscreen full of oil for his troubles as they emerged from the pit lane. Kelly came in on the next lap and dropped in behind Whincup as Reynolds retained the effective lead after his final stop.
As the race started to wind down, Reynolds moved into the lead as the pit cycles were completed, enjoying a healthy lead over McLaughlin whose car had stopped its smoking habit, maintaining a gap over Whincup. Polesitter Kelly kept himself positioned behind Whincup in fourth but didn’t look like mounting a challenge for the final podium place.
A late race safety car was deployed on lap 55 thanks to debris on the straight, a combination of a metal tube (the original source) and the undertray of Lee Holdsworth’s ZB Commodore which made its bid for freedom. Under the safety car, Cam Waters’ Tickford car called it quits on the main straight, seizing up and parking itself past the pit entry.
The race resumed on lap 59 with Reynolds putting a gap on the field thanks to Macaulay Jones being out of sequence in the line, holding McLaughlin and Whincup up slightly coming to turn one. The car to watch soon became Van Gisbergen in fifth, the Triple Eight driver having the freshest tyres of the front bunch though he struggles to get by Kelly in the opening tours.
While Van Gisbergen eventually passed Kelly, the time wasted behind the Nissan meant he couldn’t get himself on the podium as his team-mate Whincup harassed McLaughlin all the way to the line.
No one could catch David Reynolds as the reigning Bathurst winner took his second win for the season, showing a masterstroke after a bold turn one move. Despite the close battle between McLaughlin and Whincup on the final lap, the order remained unchanged to the flag.
Pic via Erebus Motorsport V8