McLaughlin wins, Whincup penalised in Safety Car drama

Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin has taken a record-breaking 17th win of the 2019 Supercars Championship after Jamie Whincup was penalised for passing the Safety Car at Pukekohe.

Whincup was incorrectly picked up by the Safety Car despite being further back in the field due to having already taken his first compulsory pit stop, which prompted him to pass it without permission.

When he was handed a pit lane penalty shortly after the restart, McLaughlin inherited a lead in Race 24 which he would not relinquish.

The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver won the ITM Auckland SuperSprint finale by 1.8976s over Whincup’s Red Bull Holden Racing Team team-mate Shane van Gisbergen, while Chaz Mostert held off Nick Percat to take the final podium position.

The victory means McLaughlin breaks Craig Lowndes’ 23-year-old record for most championship race wins in a Supercars/ATCC season, while van Gisbergen won the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy having prevailed in Race 23 a day prior.

Whincup took the chequered flag in 16th position in the #88 ZB Commodore having dropped back to 20th immediately after serving his punishment.

He had qualified on Armor All Pole Position and led Lee Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Mustang), Fabian Coulthard (#12 DJR Team Penske Mustang), Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), McLaughlin (#17 Mustang), and van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore) to the first corner.

Van Gisbergen briefly got ahead of McLaughlin on the opening lap but they ran otherwise unchanged until the first pit stops began, with Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang) the most prominent mover having passed Will Davison (#23 Milwaukee Mustang) for seventh on Lap 2.

The top four had been into the lane, with Whincup retaining the effective lead, when a Safety Car was called on Lap 14 due to David Reynolds’ #9 Penrite ZB Commodore going into “limp mode or something”, he reported on his radio.

That intervention led to a race-changing course of events when the Safety Car waited to pick up Whincup, who was not the official race leader at the time and passed the dayglo red Mustang on the back straight despite not being shown green lights.

Holdsworth, who was second to Whincup on the road and second on that strategy, opted to wait until he and those behind were belatedly signalled to go by the Safety Car.

Whincup did have the official race lead at the time of the restart on Lap 18, with three lapped cars protecting him from second placed McLaughlin, who was able to sink 98 litres out of the 120-litre mandatory fuel fill in a repeat of the strategy machinations which played out under similar circumstances a day earlier.

Van Gisbergen was third and Mostert fourth, having reportedly taken on 89 and 98 litres respectively given they also stopped under yellows, while Holdsworth was 11th, the first of those unduly delayed by the Safety Car.

Whincup was 3.6s up on McLaughlin at the end of the first lap back under green flag but was soon issued a drive-through penalty for a breach of Safety Car procedure.

He took the penalty immediately, on Lap 24, and dropped to 20th having led by 7.7s at that point.

Whincup’s team boss, Roland Dane, was somewhat critical of Race Control but also his driver.

“To be honest, it’s not good enough, but I can understand a little bit of the confusion because he wasn’t the leader; but the lights were on,” said Dane during the race.

When asked who made the call, Dane explained, “We couldn’t see the Safety Car; he can.

“He has to make the call and if the yellow lights are on, you don’t go past; there could be a major incident up the road where they’ve decided that they’re not even going to try and pick up the leader.

“To be honest, I think there’s some confusion because he wasn’t the leader and the reality is they should have let everyone through then, but the lights were on.

“Race Control need to do a better job; it’s the sort of thing that happens here because you’ve got such a short lap and a long pit lane.

“That’s how these things end up with that because you get traffic intermingled, they’re a lap down, etc. That’s how it happens, but we still should be better than that and so should Jamie.”

In any event, McLaughlin had inherited the lead of the motor race by around a second from van Gisbergen, with Mostert by then in third position.

Van Gisbergen drifted to 2.4s back from his fellow New Zealander by the time he took his second pit stop at the end of Lap 39 and he had to fight hard to stay ahead of Mostert, who pitted four laps earlier, when he rejoined.

DJR Team Penske seemingly responded by pitting McLaughlin a lap later and he resumed around four seconds up on van Gisbergen, with an off-sequence Anton De Pasquale (#99 Erebus ZB Commodore) between them.

The margin between effective first and second positions ebbed and flowed on the run home but van Gisbergen was not a serious threat to McLaughlin, whose championship lead is now the equivalent of almost two full rounds at 598 points.

“I completely forgot about it,” said McLaughlin regarding Lowndes’ record.

“I wanted so badly to do this on New Zealand soil and yeah, so stoked.

“I did everything so I’m glad I crossed the finish line straight, everything was pretty cool.

“Really proud of our team to be up there with a guy like him (Lowndes); I’m a lucky guy driving a cool car and just a proud New Zealander trying to do my thing.”

Van Gisbergen consolidated second position in the championship as he effectively won the round.

Mostert had his mirrors full of Percat (#8 NZ Safety Blackwoods ZB Commodore) in the final laps, just as they were when the field was let loose after the sole Safety Car of the race, but held on as they finished third and fourth respectively.

Todd Hazelwood (#35 Matt Stone Racing ZB Commodore) similarly ended up in fifth, while Scott Pye (#2 Mobil 1 ZB Commodore) was officially classified sixth given Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore), who crossed the finish line in that position, had time added for pit lane speeding.

Winterbottom was therefore officially eighth, behind Simona De Silvestro, who bagged a career best seventh in her #78 Harvey Norman Altima.

The Boost Mobile Racing entries of Richie Stanaway (#33 ZB Commodore) and James Golding (#34 ZB Commodore) rounded out the top 10, while Coulthard was 12th having not been able to make any major gains by stopping a second time to top up under Safety Car.

Whincup finished 55.9687s behind the winner, with a new lap record of 1:02.3719s scant consolation if at all, while Reynolds did end up a finisher at 16 laps down.

The next event of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, from October 10-13.

Results: Race 24, ITM Auckland SuperSprint

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Laps Race time
1 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT 70 1:17:38.7925
2 97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:17:40.6901
3 55 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Mustang GT 70 1:17:44.8358
4 8 NZ Safety Blackwoods Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:17:45.3586
5 35 Bigmate Racing Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:10.4469
6 2 Mobil 1 Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:22.5439
7 78 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 70 1:18:23.7248
8 18 Irwin Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:26.1574
9 33 Boost Mobile Racing Richie Stanaway Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:28.9282
10 34 Boost Mobile Racing James Golding Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:29.7441
11 15 Castrol Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 70 1:18:31.8664
12 12 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 70 1:18:32.1980
13 23 Milwaukee Racing Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 70 1:18:32.6561
14 6 Monster Energy Racing Team Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 70 1:18:32.9522
15 5 The Bottle-O Racing Team Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 70 1:18:34.3958
16 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:34.7612
17 22 Mobil 1 Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:36.9699
18 14 Machinery House Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore ZB 70 1:18:37.5251
19 7 Plus Fitness Racing Andre Heimgartner Nissan Altima 70 1:18:40.3672
20 99 Penrite Racing Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 69 1:18:36.0600
21 3 Racing Garry Jacobson Nissan Altima 69 1:18:37.8865
22 21 Team CoolDrive Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 68 1:17:43.9033
23 19 Truck Assist TEKNO Racing Jack Le Brocq Holden Commodore ZB 68 1:17:50.0588
24 9 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 54 1:17:47.5005

Championship points

Pos Driver Pts
1 Scott McLaughlin 3008
2 Shane van Gisbergen 2410
3 Chaz Mostert 2327
4 Fabian Coulthard 2317
5 Jamie Whincup 2140
6 David Reynolds 2084
7 Cameron Waters 1975
8 Nick Percat 1894
9 Will Davison 1811
10 Lee Holdsworth 1704
11 Anton De Pasquale 1665
12 Andre Heimgartner 1526
13 Mark Winterbottom 1516
14 James Courtney 1510
15 Tim Slade 1458
16 Scott Pye 1360
17 Rick Kelly 1302
18 Todd Hazelwood 1291
19 James Golding 1217
20 Simona De Silvestro 1129
21 Jack Le Brocq 892
22 Macauley Jones 891
23 Garry Jacobson 854
24 Richie Stanaway 734
25 Jack Smith 285
26 Michael Caruso 222
27 Chris Pither 159
28 Thomas Randle 108
29 Tim Blanchard 93

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