Runaway Supercars Championship leader Scott McLaughlin won a drama-filled opening race at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, the Kiwi’s eleventh win of the 2019 season to-date.
Having qualified on pole position, the DJR Team Penske driver survived a three-wide sprint to Turn 1 against Erebus Motorsport teammates David Reynolds and Anton de Pasquale. With McLaughlin holding the inside line into the left-hander, he emerged in the lead and would reign supreme to the chequered flag. Reynolds and de Pasquale made side-by-side contact, with the latter forced wide and surrendering third place to Will Davison. The Milwaukee Racing driver then made a neat move on the inside of Reynolds at Turn 6 to claim second place.
There was chaos further back in the field when Macauley Jones and James Golding collided on the sweeps after Turn 1, with Jones lucky not to be turned into the fence. Golding was out as a result of the contact, along with Jack Le Brocq who appeared to trigger the contact when he slowed with an apparent suspension failure.
On the very next lap a second Brad Jones Racing Holden was sent into retirement. Tim Slade found himself the victim of a bump at the right-rear of his car by Rick Kelly’s Nissan Altima as the exited Turn 5, which sent Slade spearing into the fence on the approach to Turn 6.
There was more drama further around the lap when the Irwin Tools ZB Commodore of Mark Winterbottom ploughed into the side of Andre Heimgartner’s Plus Fitness Nissan Altima exiting the final corner. That contact caused the chasing pack of cars to bunch up, with the third Nissan of Simona de Silvestro nerfing Todd Hazelwood’s Holden into the run-off at Turn 1 after she outbraked herself.
The Safety Car was called into action so Slade’s damaged car could be retrieved and when racing resumed on Lap 8 Davison tried to get a run on McLaughlin for the lead. The chasing Reynolds also tried to profit amidst the jostling, but instead he and teammate de Pasquale were both overtaken by Cam Waters’ Tickford Mustang.
As McLaughlin extended his lead out in front, de Pesquale was the first to pit on Lap 16, taking on four new tyres, however, an issue attaching the front-right resulted in valuable seconds lost. Chaz Mostert pitted a lap later and executed the undercut perfectly, re-joining 10 seconds ahead of de Pesquale.
Davison and Reynolds both pitted on Lap 19; Erebus had the quicker stop but Davison was released too soon and made contact in the fast lane before yielding to Reynolds. As a result of the unsafe release, Davison was later handed a 15-second time penalty by the stewards.
McLaughlin pitted on Lap 20, reacting to the threat of Mostert on fresher tyres, who was pumping out quick lap times. The DJR Team Penske driver was able to retain his lead until the finish.
With two laps remaining in the race, Waters was all over the back of Reynolds in third but couldn’t attempt a passing manoeuvre and ended up finishing in fourth place. McLaughlin came home victorious with his eleventh win in the 2019 season with a 6.8-second margin over Mostert. He could become the first driver in Supercars history to win the Darwin ‘Triple Crown’ should he extend his unbeaten run into Sunday’s 200-kilometre race.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown – Race 15 Final Classification (42 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||52:11.854|
|2.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 6.883|
|3.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 7.878|
|4.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 8.242|
|5.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 8.953|
|6.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||+ 12.462|
|7.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 14.008|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 15.289|
|9.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 20.145|
|10.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 26.524|
|11.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 28.185|
|12.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 32.133|
|13.||Nick Percat||Dunlop Racing||+ 32.662|
|14.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||+ 34.715|
|15.||Chris Pither||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 35.324|
|16.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||+ 38.926|
|17.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 39.704|
|18.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||+ 44.663|
|19.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 50.710|
|20.||Jack Smith (WC)||SCT Logistics Racing||+ 1:05.327|
|21.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||1 lap behind|
|22.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||8 laps behind|
|DNF.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||Collision|
|DNF.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||Collision|
|DNF.||Jack Le Brocq||Truck Assist TEKNO||Collision|
- Will Davison – who was provisionally classified P9 – was awarded a 15-second time penalty for an unsafe pit release.
- Simona de Silvestro – who was provisionally classified P16 – was awarded a 15-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Todd Hazelwood.
- Rick Kelly – who was provisionally classified P21 – was awarded a 15-second time penalty for causing an avoidable collision with Tim Slade.
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