Coulthard dominates Race 14 at Winton
Fabian Coulthard led from virtually start to finish to take a first win in 23 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races at the Winton SuperSprint.
Both Shell V-Power Falcons finished on the podium, though they were split by Shane van Gisbergen after he ran down Scott McLaughlin with just over 17 of 67 laps remaining.
McLaughlin started on pole alongside his DJR Team Penske team-mate but made a poor start and dropped at least four positions by the time the field arrived at the first corner.
He continued to be shuffled back and was eighth after van Gisbergen dived past at Turn 4, as Coulthard led Michael Caruso, Rick Kelly, Chaz Mostert, Scott Pye, and Jamie Whincup.
McLaughlin tailed van Gisbergen until the #17 FGX was called into the pits at the end of Lap 4, taking only around 30 litres of fuel.
Armed with new rear tyres, the championship leader gained significant ground on the front-runners as he ran in clear air, setting the ultimate fastest lap of the race when he clocked a 1:19.9402s on Lap 6.
Coulthard was unchallenged on the road, however, and still rejoined 2.5s ahead of McLaughlin having taken around 46 litres when he pitted at a relatively late Lap 21.
Van Gisbergen was into the lane at the same time, but only popped out in ninth having sunk around 57 litres in the #97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodore.
The order after the first CPS cycle was Coulthard, McLaughlin, Caruso, Scott Pye, Whincup, Rick Kelly, Chaz Mostert, Tim Slade, van Gisbergen, and Anton De Pasquale.
On fresher tyres, of which the working side was nearly new, Coulthard pushed his lead towards five seconds by the time McLaughlin took his second pit stop at the end of Lap 29.
Cars #12 and #17 stayed roughly around a minute apart until the former also peeled off the circuit with 29 laps to go and rejoined over six seconds ahead of the latter.
Van Gisbergen was kept out longer as his car set-up came good, the 2016 champion displaying impressive pace as he sought to effectively jump McLaughlin.
He came up short on that aim initially, falling over three seconds behind as his tyres came up to temperature in an effective third position following a Lap 42 pit stop.
However, van Gisbergen began to take chunks of time out of his compatriot and McLaughlin did not fight for the position when #97 got by at Turn 10 on Lap 50.
Coulthard continue to run alone at the head of the field and went on to take the chequered flag for his first win since the Saturday race at last year’s Sydney SuperSprint in mid-August.
Van Gisbergen eased off at the end as he finished 11 seconds in arrears, with McLaughlin nearly eight seconds further back.
“That was fantastic and I can’t thank my guys enough,” said Coulthard.
“The Shell V-Power car was on rails today and it was a pleasure to drive.
“I’m not sure what happened to Scotty, it’s unfortunate, it would have been good to have two Shell cars come through the first few corners one and two.
“Wasn’t to be but look, one and three, all Kiwi podium, pretty cool moment.”
Kelly lost a little ground during the middle stint of the race when he took one of the larger fuel fills of around 55 litres, but emerged fourth after the second CPS cycle and remained there in the Castrol Nissan Altima.
Caruso made for two Nissans in the top five in the Drive Altima, ahead of Pye (Mobil 1 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore), Slade (Freightliner ZB Commodore), and Whincup (Triple Eight ZB Commodore).
Richie Stanaway (Mega Fuels FGX Falcon) achieved a personal-best solo result in ninth, one position ahead of Tickford team-mate Chaz Mostert (Supercheap Auto FGX Falcon).
Andre Heimgartner was 11th in the Plus Fitness Nissan Altima, while Craig Lowndes (Autobarn ZB Commodore) eventually passed Will Davison (Milwaukee FGX Falcon) for 12th on the final lap, having started 23rd.
James Courtney was in the wars on his way to 19th, having had early contact with Anton De Pasquale (#99 Erebus ZB Commodore) and then Jack Le Brocq (#19 Tekno ZB Commodore), the latter which saw the #25 ZB Commodore leap up off the Turn 2 tyre wall.
He crossed the line in 14th but was officially classified 19th due to a 15-second penalty for turning around Garth Tander (Wilson Security GRM ZB Commodore) at Turn 8 on Lap 49.
Tander finished 22nd, two positions behind Mark Winterbottom (The Bottle-O FGX Falcon).
Cameron Waters pitted on the warm up lap with a transaxle problem for the Monster Energy FGX Falcon.
He finally started his race four laps down and eventually finished five laps behind the leader, which was still a better result than his DNF a day prior due to a similar mechanical problem.
The next event is the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown at Hidden Valley Raceway on June 15-17.
Results: Race 14, Winton SuperSprint
|1||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:32:22.9780|
|2||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:32:34.0061|
|3||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:32:41.8961|
|4||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||67||1:32:48.4004|
|5||23||Drive Racing||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||67||1:32:49.4608|
|6||2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:32:50.9299|
|7||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:32:51.3336|
|8||1||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:32:52.6648|
|9||56||MEGA Racing||Richie Stanaway||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:32:55.9776|
|10||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:32:58.0395|
|11||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||67||1:32:58.5679|
|12||888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:04.5332|
|13||230||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:33:04.8188|
|14||8||Timken Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:06.4355|
|15||9||Erebus Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:13.5684|
|16||99||Erebus Motorsport||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:16.4983|
|17||19||Tekno Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:17.1082|
|18||21||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:18.8516|
|19||25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:19.9977|
|20||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:33:20.2535|
|21||400||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:20.4983|
|22||33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:21.2661|
|23||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona de Silvestro||Nissan Altima||67||1:33:24.7990|
|24||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Ford Falcon FG/X||67||1:33:40.9178|
|25||34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||67||1:33:41.3117|
|26||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||62||1:32:41.8683|
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||1356|
|18||Jack Le Brocq||707|
|19||Anton De Pasquale||680|
|22||Simona de Silvestro||489|