McLaughlin prevails despite challenge at PI
Scott McLaughlin has overcome a pit lane delay and resistance from David Reynolds to win consecutive races at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500.
The race was decided shortly after the pair made their respective second pit stops, when McLaughlin eventually passed Reynolds.
They ran unchanged for the remainder of the 57-lap Race 10 of the season, McLaughlin winning by 0.67s in the end, while Rick Kelly bagged his second podium in as many days.
McLaughlin faced a challenge from Reynolds as soon as the lights went out, with the #9 Erebus Penrite Commodore launching well.
However, the #17 Shell V-Power Falcon had the inside line by virtue of qualifying on pole and held on to the advantage.
Fabian Coulthard, Kelly, and Jamie Whincup maintained their starting positions to fill out the top five.
The race took its first twist on Lap 8 when the Safety Car was called to recover James Courtney’s Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore, which had drawn to a halt next to pit entry with a suspected driveline issue.
McLaughlin dropped to fourth after opting for a significantly larger fuel fill than those around him, which compounded when he was delayed in exiting his pit box.
As such, Kelly led Reynolds, Caruso, McLaughlin, and Coulthard, the former of whom had been called prior to the yellows in anticipation of the race being neutralised.
Anton De Pasquale (Erebus Thermosphere Racing Commodore), however, slumped from eighth to 19th when he had to stack behind Car #9.
Kelly gradually gapped the field after the restart on Lap 11, pulling over two seconds clear of Reynolds and nearly four seconds ahead of McLaughlin, who remained fourth.
However, with a shorter first fill he had still not made enough time to re-emerge in the lead when the second pit stop cycle played out.
McLaughlin kicked that off with 30 laps remaining and Reynolds responded a lap later.
The Erebus driver re-entered the circuit just ahead of the New Zealander, ceded his position at Stoner Corner, but straight away fired back past Car #17 at the Turn 4 Hairpin.
McLaughlin maintained the pressure on Reynolds and executed a pass on Lap 31, almost identical to that which he made on Jamie Whincup a day earlier.
The 24-year-old was untroubled thereafter and extended his championship lead.
“I can’t do it without my great team; we had an awesome rocket ship all weekend,” said McLaughlin.
“I had to fight there a little bit and Ludo said to back off just that lap, and I said, ‘Just give me one more lap we’ll try and get past him,’ and we got past him (Reynolds) in the end.”
Reynolds consolidated second on the ladder but was disappointed to not be able to hang on for the race win.
“It wasn’t that epic for me because I lost out,” he lamented.
“We jumped him in the pits and came out and I just had a lot of understeer those first few laps.
“He just snuck past me and there was not much I could do about it.
“I was surprised I could hang with him (because) he’s very fast around here; they could rename him ‘Phillip Mclaughlin’.”
Kelly brought the Castrol Racing Altima into the pits for a second time at the end of Lap 30, needing to wait to ensure he could meet the 140-litre fill requirement.
He rejoined an effective third and while Coulthard, who pitted after Lap 32, closed the gap towards the end he could not get close enough to make a serious play for the podium.
Behind the #12 DJR Team Penske Falcon, Michael Caruso (#23 Drive Altima) gave Nissan Motorsport a double top five after gaining track position in the first pit stop cycle.
Shane van Gisbergen waited until the end of Lap 37 to make his second pit stop, emerging in 11th.
He gradually regained track position until coming up on Triple Eight team-mate Craig Lowndes on Lap 55, nudging the #888 Autobarn Commodore off the road at Turn 12.
The Kiwi had the presence of mind to immediately redress the incident, but the big lift off the throttle cost them any chance of catching Caruso.
Van Gisbergen nevertheless put the #97 Red Bull HRT Commodore into sixth position on the penultimate lap when Lowndes broke into a slide exiting Siberia.
Chaz Mostert finished eighth in the #55 Supercheap Auto Racing Falcon, one position ahead of Whincup.
The defending champion was not a factor as he gradually dropped from fifth on the grid in the #1 Red Bull HRT Commodore, and gave up fourth in the championship to Lowndes.
Garth Tander (#33 Wilseon Security GRM Commodore) rounded out the top 10 while Nick Percat was a commendable 13th having started last after more splitter problems for the #8 Coregas Commodore in qualifying.
Mark Winterbottom finished 15th having run off at the Southern Loop with just over 10 laps to go, with De Pasquale a position further back.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues with the Perth SuperSprint at Barbagallo Raceway on May 4-6.
Results: Race 10, WD-40 Phillip Island 500
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:33:03.5824|
|2||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:04.2511|
|3||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||57||1:33:07.5317|
|4||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:33:08.7969|
|5||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||57||1:33:15.1764|
|6||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:16.1238|
|7||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:17.9263|
|8||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:33:22.7853|
|9||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:26.9175|
|10||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:31.4807|
|11||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:32.0096|
|12||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:32.2749|
|13||8||Coregas Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:35.8275|
|14||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||57||1:33:39.7499|
|15||200||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:33:44.2599|
|16||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:47.2283|
|17||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:33:55.2004|
|18||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:33:59.7932|
|19||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:34:02.6968|
|20||56||MEGA Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:34:05.1547|
|21||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:34:06.3520|
|22||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||57||1:34:07.0608|
|23||21||Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||57||1:34:07.5177|
|24||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||57||1:34:16.4323|
|25||18||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||46||1:34:34.9352|
|26||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||5||7:52.8350|
|3||Shane van Gisbergen||849|
|18||Anton De Pasquale||467|
|19||Jack Le Brocq||452|
|24||Simona de Silvestro||285|