Defending Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin has started his title defence in the best way possible by winning the opening race of the season in Adelaide.
The DJR Team Penske driver put in a dominant display to open his account for 2019 perfectly, simultaneously giving the new Ford Mustang a perfect debut with a pole and win although from different drivers.
In a surprisingly safety car free race, the 250km of competition gave a good indicator of the quality of the field for the year as battles raged on up and down the order throughout the race.
Turning around the form of 2018 which saw his teammate dominate the year’s qualifying sessions, it was Fabian Coulthard in the DJR Team Penske Mustang who secured pole position for the race, going fastest in the top ten shootout.
His session topping lap came after provisionally qualifying third, with those in front of him in Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin ending up second and third respectively. Cam Waters lined up fourth with Shane van Gisbergen, David Reynolds, Will Davison, Nick Percat, James Courtney and Rick Kelly finalising the top ten.
A woeful start from the front row in Coulthard and Whincup left the pair vulnerable, allowing McLaughlin up the inside to take the race lead into the Senna Chicane. Van Gisbergen forced his way past his teammate, relegating Whincup to fourth place.
Coulthard’s day got worse nearly immediately, earning a 10-second penalty at his first pit stop thanks to creeping out of his grid box, making it a hard day ahead for the pole-sitter.
A lack of pace for van Gisbergen saw the #97 start to move backwards, letting the sister #88 car by on Lap 5 and allowing Whincup to hunt down McLaughlin in front of him.
Cam Waters was starting to gear himself up for a long afternoon after his cool suit failed before the race start. While he pushed on in the opening stint and wanted to stay out, he pulled the #6 Tickford Mustang into the garage on Lap 20, being visibly frustrated at having to exit the car.
Mostert starred in the opening stint, cycling up to sixth place from 11th on the grid after the first round of stops were completed with McLaughlin, Whincup, van Gisbergen, Davison and Coulthard in front of him. McLaughlin started to make use of the race lead in his strategy, dropping more fuel into the #17 Mustang at his first stop than those around him.
The season’s first Safety Car was nearly deployed on Lap 26 as new Tickford recruit Lee Holdsworth put the #5 into the Turn 7 tyre barrier, almost getting away with it until innocent bystander Scott Pye came through the turn and collected him.
Both cars were able to pull themselves out of the wall, allowing the race to continue, but the duo was forced into their respective garages for extensive repairs.
While McLaughlin continued to extend his lead out front, Mostert was piling on the pressure a few spots behind, getting past pseudo-teammate Davison and hounding van Gisbergen for third as the race got to half distance. An overcooked overtake attempt at Turn 9 meant the Tickford driver undid his hard work, dropping back behind Davison.
Davison was the first to blink for his final stop, staying in the lane for longer and losing his spot to Mostert as he and van Gisbergen came in soon after. The pair exited the pits line astern, duelling for a few laps on cold tyres.
Mostert looked to have superior car pace early in the stint but van Gisbergen made his Commodore as wide as possible, not letting the Mustang past. Again, Mostert undid his hard work by overcooking it into Turn 4, running down the escape road and coming back out behind Davison.
In the last stint of the race, McLaughlin kept extending his lead out front as Whincup held a steady second place with van Gisbergen keeping Davison at bay for third. Davison had his hands full in the closing laps with Mostert again ranging up to the back of the #23 entry, bringing Coulthard in the #12 with him.
Coming home with a healthy 10-second margin, McLaughlin won his first race around the streets of Adelaide with the Triple Eight pairing of Whincup and van Gisbergen also stepping on to the podium.
Davison held off Mostert to be the best of the rest with Coulthard recovering well from his time penalty to finish sixth. South Australian Nick Percat was the first home of the local boys in seventh with David Reynolds, Mark Winterbottom and James Courtney rounding out the top ten.
Tomorrow’s action begins at 10:30am local time with qualifying, followed by the top ten shootout at 12:45pm, culminating in the last race of the weekend at 3:20pm, rounding out the 500km of racing.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship Superloop Adelaide 500 – Race 1 Final Classification (78 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing||1:48:02.464|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 12.965
|3.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 13.954
|4.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 14.943
|5.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 17.572
|6.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing||+ 22.290
|7.||Nick Percat||Team National Pharmacies||+ 33.279
|8.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 33.772
|9.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 49.367
|10.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 55.970
|11.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 1:03.340
|12.||Todd Hazelwood||Unit Racing||+ 1:04.308
|13.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||+ 1:05.846
|14.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 1:08.681
|15.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 1:10.583
|16.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 1:20.111
|17.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||1 lap behind|
|18.||Richie Stanaway||Boost Mobile Racing||1 lap behind|
|19.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||1 lap behind|
|20.||Jack Le Brocq||Team TEKNO||1 lap behind|
|21.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||1 lap behind
|22.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||6 laps behind|
|DNF.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||Collision|
|WD.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||Withdrawn|
Image via Supercars Championship