McLaughlin cruises to victory as Coulthard hits trouble

Supercars Championship Race 13 podium

Scott McLaughlin assumed the Supercars championship lead after cruising to victory in the opening 200km heat of the Watpac Townsville 400.

The DJR Team Penske Ford driver initially lost his pole position advantage to the Red Bull Holden of Jamie Whincup before recovering the lead by the end of the opening lap.

Once ahead, the Kiwi was in command retaining the lead after completing both his mandatory pit stops as he cruised to his fifth championship race victory of the season.

Whincup put up a valiant fight throughout but was left to settle for second, while Prodrive’s Mark Winterbottom completed the podium, after starting from sixth.

However, the championship took a decisive twist as Fabian Coulthard, who had held a 10 point series lead, salvaged an 11th place finish after being turned around on the opening lap.

His demise allowed McLaughlin to open up an 18 point championship lead over Whincup, as Coulthard dropped to third in the standings.

Whincup made the best start to lead pole-sitter McLaughlin as the field streamed into Turn 2.

It was at this point where the action intensified as a concertina effect resulted in a spin for Coulthard.

Garry Rogers Motorsport’s Garth Tander made contact with the rear of Tim Slade (Brad Jones Racing), who then touched the rear of Coulthard’s Falcon into a spin, dropping him down the order.

Todd Kelly’s Nissan then collected the Falcon while James Courtney (Mobil 1 HSV Racing) sustained damage, which forced the pair into the garage. The duo rejoined the race nine laps down.

At the front, McLaughlin managed to pass Whincup for the lead as Winterbottom jumped from sixth to third ahead of team-mates Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters.

Once ahead, McLaughlin began to stamp his authority on the race by opening a two second margin over Whincup.

The Kiwi elected to make his first stop on lap 18 where he took on 50 litres of fuel while Whincup pitted a lap later, taking on 10 litres more than his rival.

McLaughlin regained the lead as Whincup dropped to fourth behind Winterbottom and Mostert.

However, Whincup ignited a charge passing Mostert at the final corner on lap 28.

He went on to take second from Winterbottom with a slick pass at Turn 2 shortly after as he set his sights on leader McLaughlin.

McLaughlin was 6.6s up the road although he faced a longer second pit stop.

Behind, Shane van Gisbergen charged up to fifth by passing Waters with David Reynolds (Erebus Motorsport) seventh, ahead of Craig Lowndes, who had climbed from 19th to eighth, aided by a short first stop.

The two leaders elected to make their final stops on lap 42 and it was McLaughlin who managed to increase his lead to eight seconds over Whincup.

The six time champion’s stop was lengthened by changes being made to his car.

The strategy was replicated by Prodrive as Winterbottom and Mostert pitted a lap earlier.

Winterbottom rejoined behind Whincup in a net third while Mostert filed in behind van Gisbergen in an effective fifth.

Whincup was able to make small inroads on the gap to McLaughlin but was unable to offer a serious challenge as the race unfolded.

While the podium was set, the battle for fourth produced action as van Gisbergen suffered a broken header on his #97 Commodore.

The Kiwi eventually succumbed to Mostert, who went on to finish fourth.

His slide down the order continued as Waters managed to find away by in the closing stages, along with Lowndes and Reynolds.

Reynolds initially made contact while trying to pass van Gisbergen and when he redressed the position Lowndes shot through to sixth.

Van Gisbergen managed to nurse his car home in seventh as Tander jumped Reynolds on the final lap for eighth.

The top 10 was completed by Reynolds and Garry Rogers Motorsport’s James Moffat.

Coulthard was able to recover to 11th in front of Lee Holdsworth, who also had to battle back after being shown a mechanical black flag early in the race.

Scott Pye was the top Mobil 1 HSV Racing entry in 13th with Michael Caruso the best Nissan in 14th spot.

Aaren Russell finished 22nd on his return to Supercars with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.

Todd Kelly was the only retirement as his repaired Nissan suffered a failure on the front right.

Courtney finished in 25th after his opening lap drama.

Nick Percat was a position ahead after incurring damage to the front left of his car after hitting the wall at Turn 12.

The championship returns for another 200km race on Sunday.

Results: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship: Watpac Townsville 400: Race 13

1 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG/X 70 01:28:19.7419
2 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:23.8374
3 The Bottle-O Racing Team Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG/X 70 01:28:35.1476
4 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG/X 70 01:28:40.0008
5 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Falcon FG/X 70 01:28:48.2640
6 TeamVortex Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:53.9110
7 Red Bull Holden Racing Aust Shane Van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:56.7641
8 Wilson Security Racing GRM Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:56.8589
9 Erebus Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:57.3381
10 Wilson Security Racing GRM James Moffat Holden Commodore VF 70 01:28:58.0206
11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG/X 70 01:28:59.6576
12 Preston Hire Racing Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VF 70 01:29:05.1751
13 Mobil 1 HSV Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore VF 70 01:29:09.0693
14 Nissan Motorsport Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 70 01:29:16.6991
15 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF 70 01:29:21.2608
16 Team CoolDrive Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VF 70 01:29:33.3183
17 Sengled Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 69 01:28:24.6946
18 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 69 01:28:32.0304
19 TEKNO Woodstock Racing Will Davison Holden Commodore VF 69 01:29:04.5468
20 Freightliner Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 69 01:29:04.8727
21 Repair Management Aust Racing Alex Rullo Holden Commodore VF 69 01:29:10.8551
22 Repair Management Aust Racing Aaren Russell Holden Commodore VF 69 01:29:22.6637
23 MEGA Racing Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG/X 68 01:29:30.1387
24 McHitch Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 62 01:29:32.7965
25 Mobil 1 HSV Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 60 01:28:45.9823
DNF carsales Racing Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 34 01:03:18.5318

Championship Standings

1 Scott McLaughlin 1470
2 Jamie Whincup 1452
3 Fabian Coulthard 1402
4 Shane Van Gisbergen 1248
5 Chaz Mostert 1146
6 Mark Winterbottom 1053
7 Craig Lowndes 1026
8 Cameron Waters 1000
9 David Reynolds  987
10 Garth Tander  978
11 James Moffat  804
12 Tim Slade  792
13 Lee Holdsworth  792
14 Will Davison  732
15 Nick Percat  696
16 Michael Caruso  690
17 Rick Kelly  684
18 Scott Pye  667
19 Todd Kelly  655
20 James Courtney  600
21 Jason Bright  591
22 Simona De Silvestro  540
23 Tim Blanchard  537
24 Dale Wood  440
25 Alex Rullo  336
26 Taz Douglas  198
27 Macauley Jones  147
28 Jack Le Brocq   87
29 James Golding   87
30 Shae Davies   84
31 Cameron McConville   81
32 Matthew Brabham   57
33 Aaren Russell   39

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