The DJR Team Penske juggernaut rolled on in Perth, with reigning champion Scott McLaughlin securing his eighth win of the 2019 Supercars season with a controlled drive under floodlights to close out the Perth SuperNight round.
With teammate Fabian Coulthard winning Friday night’s opening leg on top of the second race at the preceding Phillip Island round, the Shell-sponsored squad has won ten of the year’s twelve races to date.
The team’s clean sweep of the weekend – following similar routs in Adelaide and Phillip Island – comes in the face of controversial aerodynamic changes to the Ford Mustang that were designed to restore parity balance among the field. On the face of it, the DJR Penske squad is simply in a class of its own at the moment.
It was no surprise that McLaughlin, perhaps the greatest one-lap specialist in any form of touring car racing, once again claimed pole position. It was his fourth on the trot and his eighth of the season. His margin to second-placed Jamie Whincup (Red Null Holden Racing) was a staggering half a second – the gap behind Whincup to the slowest qualifier was just one second.
As was the case on Friday night, however, McLaughlin was beaten off the starting line and Whincup got the jump to take the early race lead before Turn 1. The pair staged a fantastic battle for the lead over the next 17 laps, with Whincup repeatedly fending off McLaughlin’s advances before the New Zealander made his first of two compulsory pit stops.
Whincup stayed out and pitted at the end of Lap 25. He took on more fuel than McLaughlin, but importantly emerged ahead of McLaughlin’s teammate and Friday race-winner Fabian Coulthard when he exited pit lane.
McLaughlin’s shorter pit stop saw him claim the effective race lead and he extended his advantage over Whincup to some six seconds during the middle stint of the race.
On Lap 47, third-placed Coulthard was the first of the frontrunners to pit and make his second pit stop. Moments later, Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing Nissan) and Scott Pye (WAU Holden) collided at the final corner, leading to the latter being stranded in a dangerous position at the entry to the old pit lane.
The Safety Car was called into action and the remainder of the field made their second pit stops. McLaughlin and Whincup returned to the track in the same order, but Coulthard found himself jumped by the sister Ford Mustang of Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters.
As the Safety Car pulled away into the pits, McLaughlin curiously held the field at a slow pace until after the exit of the final corner. With the field bunched behind him, there was inevitably contact, with Rick Kelly’s Nissan fired towards pit wall by Shane van Gisbergen as the duo jostled for fifth place at the restart.
Kelly somehow avoided contact with the pit wall, but struck several foam advertising signs as he fought to regain control of his car. Parts of these became lodged in his front air intake and brake ducts, forcing him into the pits to have the remaining pieces removed.
Up at the front McLaughlin skipped clear of Whincup, who was initially left to defend second place from the chasing Waters and Coulthard before he was able to pull clear in the final laps.
Waters held off Coulthard to claim his fourth podium finish of the season, while in fifth came van Gisbergen – despite his contact with Kelly – ahead of the Erebus pairing of David Reynolds and Anton de Pasquale.
The two Tickford-run entries of Will Davison and Lee Holdsworth finished eighth and ninth, with the latter putting in a fine drive after qualifying a poor twentieth-fastest.
Their teammate Chaz Mostert was the sole Mustang runner not to finish in the top-ten. After running in the top-three early on and looking on course to repeat his Friday night podium finish, the Supercheap Auto Racing driver was forced to retire when he dropped a cylinder.
Nick Percat ended a solid weekend by completing the top ten for Brad Jones Racing ahead of teammate Tim Slade, while Simona de Silvestro again finished as the best Nissan runner in twelfth.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship Pirtek Perth SuperNight – Race 12 Final Classification (83 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||1:20:03.009|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 1.928|
|3.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 4.331|
|4.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 5.139|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 6.863|
|6.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 11.281|
|7.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 12.949|
|8.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 13.440|
|9.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||+ 15.128|
|10.||Nick Percat||Holden Guaranteed Value||+ 18.105|
|11.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||+ 19.829|
|12.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 23.084|
|13.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 23.678|
|14.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||+ 24.104|
|15.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 28.391|
|16.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 31.449|
|17.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||+ 33.540|
|18.||Tim Blanchard||Petronas Motorsport||+ 39.025|
|19.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||+ 40.073|
|20.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 52.162|
|21.||Richie Stanaway||Boost Mobile Racing||1 lap behind|
|22.||Jack Le Brocq||Truck Assist TEKNO||1 lap behind|
|23.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||2 laps behind|
|DNF.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||Collision|
|DNF.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||Engine|
Image via Red Bull Content Pool