Costly pit stop blunders determined the outcome of the second Supercars Adelaide 500 race, but in the end it was the defending series champion Scott McLaughlin who took home the spoils and an early lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
McLaughlin narrowly missed out on claiming pole position for Sunday’s race, falling just short of Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Shane van Gisbergen by mere hundredths of a second in the earlier Top-10 Shootout.
Nonetheless, he made a better getaway than van Gisbergen as the start, slotting ahead of his New Zealand countryman through the Senna Chicane to claim the early race lead.
Further around the opening lap, there was drama at the hairpin when Anton de Pasquale was tapped into a spin by Erebus Motorsport teammate David Reynolds. De Pasquale was turned around and in the ensuing melee unavoidably hit by the CS Racing Holden of Scott Pye. Both drivers were out on the spot, with the Safety Car briefly called into action so their damaged cars could safely be retrieved from the circuit.
McLaughlin and van Gisbergen ran in close company after the restart before the race was again neutralised on Lap 13 when Chris Pither beached his TEKNO-run Team Sydney Holden in the gravel at Turn 11.
That triggered a flurry of activity in the pit lane as the field sought to get the first of their two compulsory pit stops out of the way. With McLaughlin’s DJR Team Penske team occupying prime position at the end of the pit lane, they needed to ensure they would not get jumped by the Red Bull Holden Racing Team crew servicing van Gisbergen.
But a rare misstep proved costly, with the DJRTP crew putting fractionally more fuel in McLaughlin’s car than their rivals had in van Gisbergen’s. That proved the difference, with van Gisbergen getting the jump and claiming the effective race lead, leaving DJRTP team principal Ryan Storey more than a little red-faced and McLaughlin now needing to try and pass his long-time rival on-track.
Van Gisbergen put paid to any threat from McLaughlin by steadily eking out a lead during the second stint. The DJRTP crew gambled on an undercut strategy and called McLaughlin in early for his second pit stop on Lap 43, but the Red Bull crew responded and pulled van Gisbergen in on the next tour to negate the potential benefit.
Van Gisbergen rejoined the track ahead of McLaughlin but it was immediately apparent that his own crew had committed a pit stop error by short-filling him. The race rules required at least 140 litres of fuel to be delivered to the cars through the pit stops, and the Red Bull crew were a few litres short. Van Gisbergen would have to make a third pit stop, and by doing so would effectively hand victory to McLaughlin.
Van Gisbergen pushed hard to build as big a cushion as possible before pitting for a third time on Lap 68, taking on a fresh set of tyres in the hope that the newer rubber could help him overtake Chas Mostert (Walkinshaw Andretti United Holden) and Cameron Waters (Tickford Racing Ford) who had inherited second and third place respectively.
His superior pace had him zero up to the back of Waters’ Mustang almost immediately, but van Gisbergen felt that something was wrong with his car’s steering. His team diagnosed a possible shock absorber or roll bar failure and encouraged van Gisbergen to back off and preserve his fourth place given he had a large gap back to the Tickford Ford of Will Davison.
Van Gisbergen felt it was safe enough to press on and on Lap 75 he dived up the inside of Waters on the approach to Turn 7, only for his steering to fail as he braked for the corner. Somehow van Gisbergen managed to avoid hitting Waters, but his race was done and he parked his hobbled car on the back straight.
Up front, McLaughlin cruised to victory and thanks to his second-placed finish behind van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup in Saturday’s opening race, claimed the early championship lead.
McLaughlin was magnanimous enough to admit that his win owed more to fortune than outright pace.
“Full credit to Shane and his team, they really should’ve won that race,” he said before ascending the podium.
“They had the faster car, so I’ll take it. We’ve got to take the luck when we can.”
Mostert claimed second place in his first weekend in WAU colours, ultimately benefitting from a long fuel drop at the first pit stop which buried him in the midfield during the race’s second stint. A subsequently shorter second pit stop helped to vault him up the order ahead of former Tickford Racing teammates Waters, Davison and Lee Holdsworth.
Waters finished third, counting himself lucky to have done so after he overshot the pit lane entry trying to make his second pit stop.
Davison finished in fourth place ahead of Whincup and Holdsworth. BJR Holden’s Nick Percat atoned for his Saturday race dramas by finishing in seventh ahead of Reynolds who was hit with a drive-through penalty for punting teammate de Pasquale. Fabian Coulthard (DJR Team Penske) and Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing Ford) completed the top ten.
The second round of the Supercars Championship, the Melbourne 400 at Albert Park, will see the field play support billing at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix over four races between March 13-15.
|2020 Australian Supercars Championship Superloop Adelaide 500 – Race 2 Final Classification (78 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||1:52:12.396|
|2.||Chaz Mostert||Mobil 1 TM Appliances||+ 10.307|
|3.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 14.310|
|4.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 21.046|
|5.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 24.187|
|6.||Lee Holdsworth||Truck Assist Racing||+ 24.748|
|7.||Nick Percat||X Convenience Mobil||+ 33.047|
|8.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 34.168|
|9.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 35.066|
|10.||Andre Heimgartner||NED Racing||+ 35.650|
|11.||Mark Winterbottom||IRWIN Racing||+ 46.568|
|12.||Jack Le Brocq||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 51.221|
|13.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 55.309|
|14.||Todd Hazelwood||Plus Fitness Racing||+ 1:01.668|
|15.||James Courtney||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 1:05.141|
|16.||Zane Goddard||UNIT Racing||1 lap behind|
|17.||Bryce Fullwood||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||1 lap behind|
|18.||Jack Smith||SCT Motor Sports||2 laps behind|
|19.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||3 laps behind|
|20.||Garry Jacobson||Yellow Cover Racing||6 laps behind|
|DNF.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Steering|
|DNF.||Chris Pither||Team SYDNEY||Accident|
|DNF.||Scott Pye||DEWALT Racing||Collision|
|DNF.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||Collision|
- To be advised
Image via DJR Team Penske
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