Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert and James Moffat have pulled off an unexpected victory in Saturday’s Gold Coast 600 race, dominating the back end of the day to take the team’s first victory in 2018.The win comes a year after the team’s last success at the same event and same day in 2017 with Mostert winning in that instance, back when he was partnered with Steve Owen.
Moffat ended up driving a majority of the race thanks to an early safety car forcing the field’s hand, earning his second career win while Mostert brought the car home in first for the 12th time in Supercars.
Scott McLaughlin dragged himself up from fourth in the provisional qualifying session to take his 12th pole of the year after the top ten shootout, going two tenths clear of the field. The result means he has won the pole award for the year as no one else can beat him in the five remaining races.
Jamie Whincup lined up alongside his adversary, just pipping David Reynolds to the second spot on the front row by under one hundredth of a second. Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert, Michael Caruso, Nick Percat and Cam Waters completed the top eight as James Courtney and championship leader Shane van Gisbergen had their laps revoked for curb hopping on the back chicane.
Alex Premat got the holeshot from pole, leading the field to the firs chicane as Luke Youlden in third bogged down off the line, dropping back to fifth at the end of the opening lap. Paul Dumbrell started to apply the pressure on the #17 car of Premat, wanting to move into the lead from second spot as Tony D’Alberto in the second DJR Team Penske machine held station in third.
Contact on lap two saw Dumbrell make contact with Premat, sending the Falcon into the wall and dropping the pole sitter back to fifth place. Earl Bamber, driving the championship leading car, sat only two spots behind Premat, both trying to keep it clean before the main drivers jumped aboard.
Racing went on as the clash between Dumbrell and Premat was seen as a racing incident by race control, leaving Dumbrell in the lead from D’Alberto, James Moffat, Youlden and Premat.
A mistake for Will Brown in the #99 car at the first chicane saw him smack the inside wall, bouncing into the outside fence and being clipped by Steven Owen who rocked up on the scene with nearly no warning.
The safety car on lap 24, caused chaos in the pits with Dumbrell stalling on exit as D’Alberto exited the lane first after being short-filled, followed by Moffat who was hit by the #1 as it left its pit bay, earning an unsafe release for the car which had been leading, also dropping the #97 to 11th due to the double stack.
Premat was lucky not having to double stack behind D’Alberto thanks to the shorter fill for the #12 while a strong opening stint from Craig Lowndes saw him hand the #888 over to Steven Richards in sixth post-stop after starting 21st.
Racing resumed on lap 28 with the stewards handing down drive through penalties to both cars #1 and #97 for unsafe releases in their pit stops, putting them down to 21st and 22nd respectively. Dumbrell’s penalty was for being released into the #55 of Moffat while Bamber was penalised for leaving the pit bay into the path of Garry Jacobson in car #15, causing the Nissan to slow down to avoid contact.
D’Alberto relinquished the lead to Moffat on lap 36, easing off on the front straight to let the #55 past as behind them, Premat started to put the pressure on Youlden for the final spot on the podium though seemingly couldn’t get past in the latter stages of the stint despite having a crack at turn four on lap 54.
Pitting from second before the critical lap number to make it home, D’Alberto came in on lap 57, handing the car over to Coulthard who emerged just ahead of Moffat in the lead but soon had to let the leader past.
A slip up for Youlden just before the final stops let Premat past into second place, way behind Moffat but into a higher spot as the field reached the critical lap number to get home.
Youlden and Macaulay Jones came in for their swaps on lap 61, handing the cars over to David Reynolds and Nick Percat respectively. Moffat, Premat and Richards came in to the lane on the next tour with Mostert emerging as the effective race leader with James Courtney, Lowndes, Reynolds and Scott McLaughlin behind him.
With 25 laps to go, McLaughlin in fifth place and the effective championship lead was handed a bad sportsmanship flag for overuse of the curbs around the circuit. He sat in a comfortable fifth place while Mostert had a comfortable lead over Courtney who was being hounded by Lowndes for the second step on the podium.
With Mostert in cruise mode as the race ticked down into the closing laps, Courtney was still holding off Lowndes who had Reynolds behind him for company in the fight for the podium places. A slip up on the exit of the hairpin for Courtney left the door open for Lowndes, handing him second position at the beach front chicane.
Courtney came under fire from Reynolds in the closing laps as he had to conserve fuel, holding off the Erebus car for the final pair of surfboards as Mostert won up front with a clear gap to the field. Lowndes finished second, extending his points lead in the Enduro Cup standings in the process.
McLaughlin came home in fifth, taking the championship lead in the process thanks to the dramas for car #97 which fought back up to tenth late in the race, making the difference a mere 14 points in the standings. Percat finished a respectable sixth with Winterbottom, Waters, Tander and van Gisbergen behind him to round out the top ten while Whincup ended up in 14th.
Image via Tickford Racing