Shane van Gisbergen claimed victory in the opening race of the Supercars Championship’s season-ending Newcastle 500 round, comfortably crossing the line over 10 seconds ahead of champion-elect Scott McLaughlin.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Commodore driver delivered a faultless start-to-flag performance in a Safety Car-free race.
It was a different story for his teammate Jamie Whincup, who made a rare mistake late in the race that cost the Triple Eight Race Engineering stable a 1-2 finish and 66 precious Teams’ Championship points.
Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin launched off the line and were side-by-side heading into the first corner but polesitter van Gisbergen forced the DJR Team Penske star wide at Turn 1 allowing the sister #88 Holden of Whincup to move through into second.
The DJR Team Penske strategy saw McLaughlin called into to the pit lane for tyres and fuel on Lap 7 of the 95-lap race, with engineers hoping clean air and new boots would result in a race-winning undercut.
Fearing the possibility of a double-stack in the narrow pit lane if a Safety Car was called, Whincup stopped for fuel and tyres on Lap 16 while van Gisbergen stayed out until Lap 32.
As the Teams’ Championship fight between the frontrunning outfits heated up, Whincup and McLaughlin battled for 12th and 13th in Lap 26 as they dealt with traffic. As the rest of the field headed into the pits for their first stops, Fabian Coulthard was the last car to pit on Lap 35, handing his Shell V-Power teammate McLaughlin the lead ahead of Whincup.
McLaughlin lead the race under pressure from Whincup until van Gisbergen overtook the seven-time champion on Lap 44. Benefitting from younger tyres and more fuel, he immediately applied pressure to the back of McLaughlin.
James Courtney (Walkinshaw Andretti United Racing) was the first to head in for his second compulsory pit stop on Lap 48 followed by Lee Holdsworth (Tickford Racing), David Reynolds (Erebus Motorsport) and Cameron Waters (Tickford Racing) with McLaughlin coming in one lap later, handing the lead back to van Gisbergen.
Van Gisbergen continued his charge, gaining a 50-second lead over his second placed teammate, which handed him a free pit stop to come back out in front with 35 laps to go.
Red Bull were on for a 1-2 finish until twenty laps to go when Whincup ran off at Turn 1 and was forced to three-point turn his way out of the escape road, causing him to plummet to seventh.
The Shell V-Power Mustangs didn’t display the pace of the Red Bull Commodores, but a smart strategy put both McLaughlin and Coulthard on the podium to extend their Teams’ Championship points lead by 143 points.
After the Shell Fords came Reynolds and Waters, with a late charge from Scott Pye (Walkinshaw Andretti United Racing) and teammate James Courtney pushing Whincup back to eighth.
The WAU team had plenty to celebrate due to Pye’s stellar run to sixth – moving up 18 positions from 24th – pushing past Courtney, Whincup and ninth-placed Tim Slade (Brad Jones Racing) all within the last ten laps of the race. His performance was all the more impressive after he’d been hospitalised with a stomach bug and was forced to miss critical track action in Friday practice.
Mark Winterbottom (Team 18) came home tenth in his 500th Supercars race, while Tickford Racing trio Chaz Mosert Tickford Racing, Lee Holdsworth and Will Davison 23Red Racing all finished outside the top ten.
Anton De Pasquale (Erebus Motorsport) had a frustrating race, needing to head to the garage on Lap 34 with a power steering issue. The young gun returned to the track to finish the race four laps down, in an upsetting result after qualifying fifth in his first Top-10 Shootout at Newcastle.
TEKNO Autosport’s Jack Le Brocq saw his race over before it began when he was spun by James Golding on the second lap. Severe damage to his rear wing and roof sent him back to the garage.
Golding found himself in more trouble mid-race, with the Garry Rogers Motorsport youngster tangling with Macauley Jones (Brad Jones Racing) on Lap 42, turning around in front of Mosert.
The final day of the 2019 season will start with a qualifying session at 11:20am before another Top-10 Shootout and 250-kilometre race.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship Coates Hire Newcastle 500 – Race 31 Final Classification (95 laps)|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||1:55:11.974|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 10.526|
|3.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 12.830|
|4.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 15.324|
|5.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing Team||+ 22.957|
|6.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 Racing||+ 23.717|
|7.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 Racing||+ 29.650|
|8.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||+ 29.918|
|9.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||+ 30.652|
|10.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 35.378|
|11.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 41.403|
|12.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||+ 49.549|
|13.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 58.515|
|14.||Nick Percat||Timken Racing||+ 1:00.941|
|15.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 1:02.616|
|16.||Richie Stanaway||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 1:10.639|
|17.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||+ 1:10.752|
|18.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||1 lap behind|
|19.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||1 lap behind|
|20.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||1 lap behind|
|21.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||1 lap behind|
|22.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||1 lap behind|
|23.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||7 laps behind|
|DNF.||Jack Le Brocq||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||Accident|
- To be advised
Image via Red Bull Holden Racing Team
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