Rick Kelly has taken victory in Race 13 of the Supercars Championship at Winton after long-time leader Scott McLaughlin was swallowed up at a late Safety Car restart.
Kelly had run an effective second since the compulsory pit stop cycle but pounced when McLaughlin made an error upon restart, and Scott Pye took the opportunity to follow as McLaughlin was shuffled back to fifth, where he finished.
Pye then came under significant pressure from van Gisbergen, which he survived before taking the fight to Kelly in the closing laps.
The Nissan Motorsport co-owner held strong, however, taking his first win in an Altima at the scene of the car’s first victory in Supercars, just days after the Japanese manufacturer announced its withdrawal from the championship.
McLaughlin showed a clean pair of heels from pole position and quickly gave himself a small buffer to Michael Caruso, Kelly, and Fabian Coulthard.
The latter had made a relatively poor start and ended up on the outside of the Nissans as they went three-wide to the first corner.
Caruso was first of the front-runners to pit, at the end of Lap 6, but was effectively overcut as his tyres came up to temperature when McLaughlin and Kelly took service a lap later and both popped out ahead.
McLaughlin marched to a lead of around 6.5s when the Safety Car was called on Lap 31 of 40 after Tim Blanchard (CoolDrive ZB Commodore) ended up beached at Turn 4 due to side-to-side contact with Simona de Silvestro’s Harvey Norman Nissan Altima.
At the restart three laps later, McLaughlin slid wide through Turn 1, compromising his run onto the old pit straight.
Kelly pulled alongside in the Castrol Altima and Pye took the opportunity to jam his Mobil 1 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore down the inside of Car #17 as well.
That also opened the door for Shane van Gisbergen and Coulthard in the sister Shell V-Power FGX Falcon also McLaughlin lost four positions in three corners.
Pye came under heavy pressure from the #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore before doing the same to Kelly.
There would be no more positional changes at the front, however, giving Kelly a first win in 210 races, dating back to Sandown in 2011 in a Kelly Racing Commodore.
“I’m trying to hold it all back, it was pretty quiet on the radio, I think everyone’s pretty overwhelmed,” said Kelly.
“I knew we were in a little bit of trouble there with the Safety Car restart. Scotty was pretty straight and I knew we had a lot of build up on the tyres so I was hoping it wasn’t just us; sure enough it wasn’t.
“He had a big wobble through (Turns) 1 and 2 and I got enough off my tyres to sneak up the inside of him. I’m pretty proud of that.
“Castrol rig today was incredible, the guys have put so much in to get us to this point and we took advantage of the situation and got a win. I’m pretty happy.”
Pye had started fifth and van Gisbergen 14th, and they did not pit until Laps 25 and 27 respectively having shown among the best pace in the field on their original tyre sets.
“The pace was awesome, we just managed to get near the front at the start,” said Pye.
“At the end I thought it was going to be easy to get to the front, I guess because of our tyre condition, but Rick was just so much stronger out of the sweeper (Turn 5) and into Turn 6 and 7. That’s really the only overtaking spot.
“For us, there’s a few things I want to work on, but I’m stoked with the result.”
McLaughlin closed up on his DJR Team Penske team-mate Coulthard in the last few laps but couldn’t pass #12 as a fifth straight win for the 24-year-old went begging.
Caruso finished sixth in the Drive Nissan Altima, from Tim Slade (Freightliner ZB Commodore), Garth Tander (Wilson Security GRM ZB Commodore), James Courtney (Walkinshaw Andretti United ZB Commodore), and Mark Winterbottom (The Bottle-O FGX Falcon).
Craig Lowndes gained a net 11 positions to finish 13th in the Autobarn ZB Commodore, one position ahead of Chaz Mostert (Supercheap Auto Racing FGX Falcon).
Jamie Whincup gained track position when he was the first to make his CPS on Lap 5, but faded significantly and ultimately took the chequered flag in 17th in the #1 Triple Eight ZB Commodore.
David Reynolds (Erebus Penrite ZB Commodore) survived an opening lap skirmish that saw both Richie Stanaway (Mega Fuels FGX Falcon) and Jack Le Brocq (Tekno Autosports ZB Commodore) spin at Turn 4, only to take damage a few corners later after contact with de Silvestro and Todd Hazelwood (Bigmate Racing FGX Falcon).
Cameron Waters was the only DNF with a suspected driveshaft failure for the Monster Energy FGX Falcon.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship field is next on track tomorrow at 1025 local time/AEST for Armor All Qualifying for Race 14.
Results: Race 13, Winton SuperSprint Updated
|1||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||40||57:29.0426|
|2||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:29.5736|
|3||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:30.1618|
|4||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:30.5710|
|5||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:31.2431|
|6||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||40||57:32.8151|
|7||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:33.5369|
|8||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:33.9636|
|9||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:35.3262|
|10||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:36.8460|
|11||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:37.1411|
|12||99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:38.1577|
|13||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:38.6092|
|14||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:39.5513|
|15||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:39.7286|
|16||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||40||57:42.2244|
|17||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:43.5037|
|18||8||Timken Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:44.1167|
|19||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||57:44.4575|
|20||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||40||57:44.8057|
|21||56||MEGA Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||40||58:03.0173|
|22||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||40||58:03.6961|
|23||400||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||39||58:23.2234|
|24||21||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||38||58:29.5621|
|25||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||34||57:45.2669|
|DNF||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||28||39:09.0380|
Drivers’ championship Updated
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||1218|
|18||Jack Le Brocq||653|
|19||Anton De Pasquale||623|
|22||Simona de Silvestro||453|