Scott McLaughlin has gone three wins from three to start the season while Ford Mustangs filled the first five positions after a failure for Shane van Gisbergen at Albert Park.
McLaughlin, his Shell V-Power Racing team-mate Fabian Coulthard, and Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters made for an unchanged top three, but for the compulsory pit stop cycle, through the 25-lap, 130km first leg of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400.
Van Gisbergen looked like being first of the ZB Commodore drivers home in fourth before he pulled off at Turn 1 having lost drive with four laps to go in the #97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team entry.
That opened the door for while Will Davison to reclaim fourth in the Milwaukee Mustang, while a stellar drive from 22nd on the grid for Supercheap Auto Racing’s Chaz Mostert made it an all-blue oval top five in Race 3 of the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
McLaughlin made a very strong start relative to those around him as Coulthard and Waters settled into second and third respectively.
Van Gisbergen, however, managed to stick on the outside of Davison at the first corner, handing him the inside line for Turn 2 and therefore fourth position.
McLaughlin was clearing out at the front of the field, stretching his lead past two seconds on Lap 7, while Coulthard was also creeping away from the Monster Energy Mustang of Waters.
Van Gisbergen came under early pressure from Davison, which saw a train form behind them.
However, he had seen off the 23Red/Tickford entry by the time Davison was first to file into pit lane for his tyre change at the end of Lap 8.
Coulthard was almost four seconds adrift from McLaughlin when he pitted two laps later, and van Gisbergen was over nine seconds back from the lead when McLaughlin and Waters came in at the end of Lap 12.
Van Gisbergen waited for three more laps to take service, at which time he rejoined behind Davison and was passed by Tim Slade exiting Turn 2 on cold tyres.
The 2016 champion re-passed Slade later that lap at Turn 15, and set after Davison armed with significantly newer rubber.
Davison made it easy when van Gisbergen ranged up on him at Turn 15 on Lap 19, and that looked to have settled the pointy end of the field.
However, van Gisbergen stopped at the exit of Turn 1/Turn 2 just over a lap later and exited the car.
The race continued without Safety Car intervention and while Mostert, who had not long disposed of Slade, was catching Davison towards the end he eventually settled for an impressive salvage effort.
McLaughlin dedicated his win to his home town after the tragic events in Christchurch earlier in the day.
“Great start for everyone at Shell V-Power Racing; one-two for the team and Ford Performance,” he said.
“Car was fantastic. But this goes out to New Zealand; tough times over there and Christchurch, my home town, they’re all suffering so love to you guys.
“(I was) Driving to a lap time, helping Fabs get a little bit of clear air on Cam as well, doing a bit of a team job up front as well as him behind.
“I had an awesome start again, my starts are going well, and I’ve just got to keep pressing on.”
Slade was ultimately highest-finishing Holden man in sixth in the Alliance Truck Parts ZB Commodore, from James Courtney (Mobil 1 Mega ZB Commodore), Jamie Whincup (Triple Eight ZB Commodore).
Last of the Mustangs was Lee Holdsworth who in fact finished ninth in Tickford’s The Bottle-O Racing entry, with David Reynolds completing the top 10 in a Penrite Racing ZB Commodore.
The first two of the Kelly Racing Altimas were Andre Heimgartner (Plus Fitness Racing) and Rick Kelly (Castrol Racing) in 15th and 16th respectively.
The top 22 finished on the lead lap while Todd Hazelwood (Gravelroad ZB Commodore) was two laps off the pace after a clash with Garry Jacobson (Rabble.Club Altima), and van Gisbergen the only DNF.
Walkinshaw Andretti United was fined $3000 and docked 30 teams’ championship points, believed to be related to an incident when Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat (Freightliner ZB Commodore) collected wheels belonging to Scott Pye’s ZB Commodore) in pit lane.
A moment between them when Pye barged past Percat at Turn 15 on Lap 18 will be investigated post-race.
McLaughlin’s championship lead is already 106 points, with Whincup in second.
There will be two races tomorrow of which the first, Race 4 of the season, is a 13-lap, 70km sprint starting at 1250 local time/AEDT.
Results: Race 3, Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 Updated
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:01.2406|
|2||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:01.9275|
|3||6||Monster Energy Racing Team||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:05.8597|
|4||23||Milwaukee Racing||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:11.1572|
|5||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:12.7986|
|6||14||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:17.0609|
|7||22||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||James Courtney||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:23.0007|
|8||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:23.2620|
|9||5||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||25||50:23.6903|
|10||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:24.4289|
|11||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:25.0370|
|12||18||Irwin Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:29.0107|
|13||2||Mobil 1 MEGA Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:30.6480|
|14||8||Freightliner Racing||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:38.2433|
|15||7||Plus Fitness Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Altima||25||50:38.9998|
|16||34||Boost Mobile Racing||James Golding||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:40.2047|
|17||33||Boost Mobile Racing||Richie Stanaway||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:41.8685|
|18||78||Team Harvey Norman||Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Altima||25||50:42.1261|
|19||21||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:57.5171|
|20||19||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||25||50:58.0379|
|21||3||RABBLE.club Racing||Garry Jacobson||Nissan Altima||25||51:11.6184|
|22||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||25||51:22.2606|
|23||35||Bigmate Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||23||50:04.6604|
|DNF||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||21||42:14.9681|
Championship points Updated
|5||Shane van Gisbergen||258|
|16||Anton De Pasquale||168|
|17||Simona De Silvestro||151|
|21||Jack Le Brocq||117|