Early leader Scott McLaughlin believes that he let a likely win go ‘begging’ after errors on-track and in pit lane during Race 5 of the Supercars Championship at Albert Park.
McLaughlin had qualified on pole for the 25-lap encounter and led by 1.1s at the end of the opening lap before slipping off the road at Turn 1.
The #17 Shell V-Power Falcon rejoined the circuit in sixth position and was seventh after the compulsory pit stops had shaken out.
With rain arriving midway through the race and intensifying with around eight laps remaining, he was one of 15 drivers to pit for wets at the end of Lap 19 and 20.
However, the rain cleared enough for those who braved the conditions on slick tyres to hang on at the front.
Scott Pye won for the first time in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in a grandstand finish while the best of those who made a second pit stop was Chaz Mostert in 10th, with McLaughlin 15th.
“Absolutely my stuff up, I put my hand up,” the New Zealander said of his excursion through the grass.
“(I) Just tried to push and made a mistake, just absolute blue, and speared off.
“Our car wasn’t amazing, especially in the traffic, so we’ll see how we go tomorrow.
“It was tough because I lost radio as well, so when it started raining, the radio was very intermittent and I couldn’t hear whether they said come in or not.
“I probably regret (it), probably should have stayed out a little longer and just tested myself because I actually called it and said it was dry enough for me to keep going and some people obviously did.
“It’s a shame, and possibly a win gone begging there.
“We’ll have another crack in the last race tomorrow.”
DJR Team Penske team-mate Fabian Coulthard had a similar story to tell.
Starting seventh, he was fourth after McLaughlin’s mistake then also lost a position through the compulsory pit stops due to Mostert’s undercut.
However, Car #12 too was among the 15 to opt for a change in rubber as conditions became difficult and went on to take the chequered flag in 12th position.
“I got a ripper start, made up two positions off the start and we were trucking along fine,” said Coulthard.
“Our first stop was a bit slow, and we came out fifth on the road.
“When it started to rain, we thought it was time for wets – with the low light it was hard to see how wet the track was – and several other drivers made the same call.
“It’s a shame because I think we were on for another good result.”
In some consolation for McLaughlin at least, who remains second the championship, each of the top four in the standings ended up in the same situation.
Points leader van Gisbergen finished 13th and David Reynolds 14th, a handful of positions behind Mostert.
The Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 concludes with Race 6 (13 laps) on Sunday from 1345 local time/AEDT.