Scott McLaughlin has turned a good start into a victory over polesitter Chaz Mostert to secure his fifteenth win of the Australian Supercars Championship 2019 season in the opening race of the OTR Supersprint round.
Championship leader McLaughlin lead the race from Turn 1 after a marginally better start off the line than fellow Mustang driver Mostert, with the pair running first and second for the duration of the 24-lap race at The Bend Motorsport Park.
With more than a 20-second gap to third place Penrite Racing’s Anton De Pasquale, Mostert kept the pressure on McLaughlin throughout the race but was unable to convert a pit-lane undercut after having a slow right-rear tyre change.
Tickford brought Mostert into pit-lane in on Lap 7, one lap earlier than race leader McLaughlin. This brought their 1.4-second margin down to eight-tenths of a second for a few laps before McLaughlin started to edge away from the Supercheap Auto Mustang.
McLaughin extended the margin back out to five seconds in the final phase of the race with Mostert backing off in the final lap to save fuel, crossing the line 7.1 seconds behind, to claim the second step of the podium.
“I was a little bit annoyed [after qualifying] but Chaz did a fantastic job lap,” McLaughlin said.
“I knew the start was going to be key, and that was probably the best start for me all year. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes, for me, fitness on the preparation for Tailem Bend, as well as the team on the car.
“It all came together.”
Mostert plans on keeping McLaughlin honest and believes he has more in the tank to fight on Sunday.
“He kind of out-grunted me … the launch and all that was OK but I just couldn’t go in a straight line with that thing,” he said.
“Credit to the car, I was able to keep the gap for most of the race with him so I’m pretty positive.”
He added of the late fuel scare: “I think there was plenty but just being cautious, you never want to come across the last couple of corners and have a big cough. The guys know their numbers but they are never 100 percent, so yeah, when the alarm is flashing at you, you just back out of it.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We still need to make improvements, but I didn’t expect to come here this year and have such a turnaround from last year.”
Behind De Pasquale, fourth place was battled out by five cars in the closing stages with Irwin Racing’s Mark Winterbottom holding off the Plus Fitness Nissan Altima of Andre Heimgartner, who subsequently fought off Shane van Gisbergen in his Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore.
Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds came home in seventh place ahead of X Convenience driver Nick Percat and the Monster Energy Mustang of Cameron Waters, with Mobil 1 Mega Racing ZB Commodore James Courtney earning P10. Jamie Whincup had a disappointing P11 finish for Red Bull who were hopeful to relive the ZB Commodore drivers double-pole success at Tailem Bend twelve months ago.
There was chaos in the opening lap in the midfield with Brad Jones’ Racing Macauley Jones and wildcard entry Thomas Randle (Scandia Racing Ford) being turned in the first corner and a move on James Courtney by Rick Kelly in his Castrol Altima at Turn 6 caused a multi-car smash ending three drivers’ pursuits.
Milwaukee Racing’s Will Davison, Matt Stone Racing’s Todd Hazelwood and Rick Kelly’s own teammate Simona de Silverstro were all DNFs as a result of the Lap 1 pile-up after Kelly’s contact with Courtney spun Davison into the front of de Silvestro. Hazelwood didn’t have anywhere to go except into the back of her Nissan with Kelly subsequently receiving a drive-through penalty for his role in triggering the carnage.
McLaughlin now extends his championship points lead over his DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard – who finished P12 – to 514 points. Mostert’s P2 finish at The Bend has moved him into third in the standings, 16 points ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and 38 points adrift of Coulthard.
A longer Race 22 will see 41 laps of Supercars Championship action with 20km/h winds forecast for Sunday’s race commencing at 1.40pm local time.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship OTR The Bend SuperSprint – Race 21 Final Classification (24 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||44:45.290|
|2.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 7.074|
|3.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 25.107|
|4.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 29.458|
|5.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||+ 29.727|
|6.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 30.455|
|7.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 30.837|
|8.||Nick Percat||X Convenience Mobil Racing||+ 31.092|
|9.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 33.690|
|10.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 34.901|
|11.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 36.757|
|12.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 37.522|
|13.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||+ 37.823|
|14.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||+ 38.352|
|15.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||+ 42.918|
|16.||Richie Stanaway||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 44.010|
|17.||Thomas Randle||Scandia Racing||+ 45.555|
|18.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 50.548|
|19.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||+ 54.735|
|20.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||+ 57.773|
|21.||Jack Le Brocq||Truck Assist TEKNO||+ 1:04.081|
|22.||Jack Smith||Freightliner Racing||+ 1:09.048|
|23.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 1:46.900|
|DNF.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||Collision|
|DNF.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||Collision|
|DNF.||Todd Hazelwood||Unit Racing||Collision|
Image via DJR Team Penske