Fabian Coulthard says it is ‘good to be back’ after breaking a podium drought stretching back to Winton, last May, in Race 3 of the Supercars Championship at Albert Park.
The #12 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang ran second all the way, but for pit stops, in the first race of the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 weekend, making for a one-two behind Scott McLaughlin.
Coulthard had not stood on the rostrum since the win on the Sunday at Winton in 2018, with 19 races (including a Gold Coast non-result) having passed since then.
Despite declaring in Adelaide that he had regained the confidence which he lost last year, Coulthard left the first event of the season virtually empty-handed after a false start in Race 1 and a pit stop error in Race 2.
The New Zealander was satisfied to be back on the podium but pointed out that it could have come earlier had he not been sacrificed in the back end of 2018 to enhance McLaughlin’s championship chances.
“I feel like we should have had one at the Gold Coast as well last year but we played the team game and helped 17 out to win a drivers’ championship,” he observed.
“We’ve had times where we’ve sacrificed results, but it’s good to be back.
“We were unlucky at Adelaide, we had a good car both days, and didn’t really come out with anything, so for us to come back and get a podium here for the guys – there’s a couple of new guys on my car – so it’s nice to get some results for them and then hopefully continue it.”
The race was a relatively simple one for each of the DJR Team Penske drivers and also Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters, who ran one-two-three throughout, except for the pit stops cycle.
McLaughlin put the comfortable nature of his victory down to establishing a margin early on to prevent being undercut.
“I felt like we were pretty good from the start,” he said.
“I got a really good start, one of the best starts I’ve ever done, and got into Turn 1 pretty easily.
“Then I just basically was trying to pull a gap because when they pull into the pits before you, it’s about two seconds, the gain, so had to try and work on that and pull away, both me and Fabs, and it worked out alright.”
While McLaughlin cleared Coulthard before the first corner, Coulthard attributed that moment as one of the reasons for his own strong result.
“I had Cam in my mirror the whole time we sort of just managed the gap to Cam,” he recounted.
“I got an okay start, it was kind of good that Scott got a blinder because it meant that I could come across and didn’t have to be on the dirty side of the track for (Turn) 1, so that was a bit of a blessing.
“I think on the whole everyone in our team’s done a fantastic job, everyone at Shell V-Power Racing; just looking forward to going racing (on Saturday).”
Race 4 of the season starts today at 1250 local time/AEDT.