Coulthard realistic on V8 Supercars Championship picture

Coulthard leads the pack in Race 3

Coulthard leads the pack in Race 3

Fabian Coulthard today wakes up as a V8 Supercars Championship race winner for the first time, but is well aware of the long task ahead to claw his way back into championship contention.

The 30-year-old New Zealander backed up the three non-championship race victories he scored three weeks ago at Albert Park with an impressive drive in Race 3 of the 2013 championship at Symmons Plains on Saturday.

A set-up tweak in the break between the two 60km legs of the Super Sprint helped Coulthard steal the lead from Jamie Whincup soon after the restart. He was not headed for the duration.

Although the Lockwood Holden has been among the very fastest since the 2013-specification vehicles first ran together at Sydney Motorsport Park in mid-February, a brake problem and a clash with the Turn 8 wall in Adelaide cost vital early points.

Coulthard sits 16th in the standings after his maiden victory, two places behind leading Brad  Jones Racing driver David Wall, and has collected less than half as many points as championship leader Whincup..

“We took a pretty big hit at Clipsal, we came into this round 22nd in the championship, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” noted Coulthard after his Race 3 win.

“The key is to finish races. We take each round and each race as it comes and make the most of our opportunities.”

Having competed in 188 V8 Supercars races without a win prior to yesterday’s breakthrough, Coulthard underlined his belief that the change to the Car of the Future regulations has enabled BJR to step up and challenge the bigger teams.

“Our cars have been pretty strong but I think now that we’ve got equal machinery with everyone else, that’s the true key,” he said.

“I was driving a car that was a 2008-spec car with a few updates here and there.

“Now that we’ve got the Car of the Future every car is pretty much identical within a few things and I’ve been able to fight with it.

“We all start the day with a clean sheet of paper when we come to each round because no one has driven this car with 18-inch wheels and a few different fundamentals that make it a bit different to set-up.

“I think I’ve clicked with (engineer) Phil (Keed) more this year,” he added.

“Last year we got a good relationship going but this year it’s starting to really click.

“The guys have just been working hard to make the cars fast and they’ve been doing a good job.”

Symmons Plains was also the scene of Coulthard’s first podium finish in V8 Supercars, which came behind the wheel of a Triple Eight-built Paul Cruickshank Racing Ford Falcon FG in 2009.

The V8 Supercars will complete a pair of 15 minute qualifying sessions this morning prior to two 100km races in the afternoon.

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