McLaughlin eases to victory in Race 14

Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin eased to victory in Supercars Championship Race 14 at the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown after taking the effective lead in an early pit stop.

While either of the Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustangs effectively headed all 38 laps around Hidden Valley Raceway, early leader Fabian Coulthard gifted second position to the Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Jamie Whincup when he ran onto the grass on Lap 8.

Whincup was indeed ultimately the runner-up and Coulthard third, ahead of the second RBHRT car of Shane van Gisbergen, who staved off Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds in the latter stages.

When the lights went out, it was the outside starters who made better getaways at the pointy end of the field.

Coulthard bettered team-mate and pole-sitter McLaughlin while Whincup (#88 ZB Commodore) took up third position from fourth on the grid despite a touch from the man he started alongside, Anton De Pasquale, at the first corner.

Nick Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore) emerged fifth from the opening corners while Andre Heimgartner (Ned Mustang) eventually wrested sixth from van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore) as they got into file exiting Turn 7, before the Triple Eight driver reclaimed the position from #7 on Lap 3.

The top 18 had started on soft tyres, including De Pasquale despite running that compound on the #99 ZB Commodore throughout Race 13, and so it was that the Penrite Racing driver was defensive to Percat in the early stages.

It was still a few tenths separating #99 and #8 when they followed Whincup into pit lane at the end of Lap 5 and while all three swapped two soft tyres, Percat jumped De Pasquale and also made up time on Whincup.

Coulthard brought his Mustang in a lap later from a lead of around 0.6s over the sister #17 entry and, unlike Whincup’s case, the DJR Team Penske crew changed the working side rubber on #12.

McLaughlin was called in next time around, also for right-hand side tyres, and a quick in-lap helped him to emerge ahead of Coulthard.

As he did so, Coulthard pinched the inside front at Turn 1 and ran off, ceding the effective second position to Whincup.

Van Gisbergen was in the nominal lead by then but pitted at the end of Lap 8 for another pair of soft rear tyres on the rear of Car #97, exiting the lane next to Percat before filing in behind the Brad Jones Racing car.

Coulthard pressured Whincup in a bid to re-take that spot but gradually dropped back from Car #88, while van Gisbergen stayed in touch with Percat.

Reynolds (#9 ZB Commodore) ran a long opening stint and was last to make his compulsory pit stop after 28 laps, at which time McLaughlin finally moved into the official lead with a touch over four seconds on Whincup after being about 4.5s up on #88 for much of the period since he took service.

Coulthard assumed third, from Percat, van Gisbergen, Reynolds, De Pasquale, Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore), Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), and Heimgartner.

Van Gisbergen took fourth from Percat with a straightforward pass at Turn 1 on Lap 30, before Percat and Reynolds appeared to barely avoid contact through Turns 2, 3, and 4 as the Erebus driver tried to capitalise.

Up the road, Whincup was eating into McLaughlin’s advantage but never looked a serious threat and the DJR Team Penske driver took the chequered flag with a margin of 1.4085s.

“It’s awesome, the first time for us in Pirtek Victory Lane,” said McLaughlin.

“I was a bit bummed I didn’t get to have a chance here yesterday but it was my own mistake so sorry to the guys for yesterday. I’m glad we could bounce back.

“It was a great start with Fabs. It was the best start I’ve done for a long time and he absolutely smashed me.

“A big in-lap on the way in, the boys’ pit stop was amazing, got in front, and then I saw Fabs run wide.

“I got a bit lucky there but overall I’m really proud. Two cars on the podium for Shell V-Power Racing; it’s ideal.”

Coulthard remained third, van Gisbergen held out Reynolds for fourth, and Percat finished sixth with a gaggle of cars behind him.

Rounding out the top 10 were De Pasquale despite reusing soft tyres all the way, Mostert, Waters, and Heimgartner, with Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore) 11th and James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang) 12th.

McLaughlin’s lead over Whincup in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship standings is now 109 points while De Pasquale heads the event points in the chase for the Darwin Triple Crown title.

The final race of the weekend is set to start at 15:30 local time/16:00 AEST.

Results: Race 14, BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Laps Race time
1 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT 38 43:59.0375
2 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:00.4460
3 12 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 38 44:06.2464
4 97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:11.4778
5 9 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:12.3306
6 8 R&J Batteries Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:16.2169
7 99 Penrite Racing Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:16.5732
8 25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:17.0489
9 6 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 38 44:17.6569
10 7 NED Whisky Racing Andre Heimgartner Ford Mustang GT 38 44:18.0652
11 18 IRWIN Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:18.9389
12 44 Boost Mobile Racing James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 38 44:21.6482
13 15 Castrol Racing Rick Kelly Ford Mustang GT 38 44:22.1891
14 5 Truck Assist Racing Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 38 44:22.6386
15 55 Supercheap Auto Racing Jack Le Brocq Ford Mustang GT 38 44:23.1775
16 20 DEWALT Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:23.7411
17 19 Local Legends Racing Alex Davison Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:28.7822
18 2 Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 38 44:33.9194
19 35 Yellow Cover Racing Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:00.4434
20 14 Brut Military Grade Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:03.3842
21 22 Team SYDNEY Chris Pither Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:04.6620
22 34 UNIT Racing Jake Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:15.9694
23 3 Team CoolDrive Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:20.8346
24 4 SCT Motor Sports Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 37 44:52.5092

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Scott McLaughlin 932
2 Jamie Whincup 823
3 Chaz Mostert 734
4 Cameron Waters 685
5 David Reynolds 680
6 Shane van Gisbergen 667
7 Mark Winterbottom 642
8 Nick Percat 637
9 Lee Holdsworth 629
10 Fabian Coulthard 608
11 Andre Heimgartner 564
12 Anton De Pasquale 559
13 Jack Le Brocq 506
14 Todd Hazelwood 495
15 James Courtney 492
16 Rick Kelly 482
17 Scott Pye 462
18 Bryce Fullwood 428
19 Jack Smith 350
20 Macauley Jones 338
21 Garry Jacobson 319
22 Chris Pither 318
23 Will Davison 231
24 Zane Goddard 204
25 Alex Davison 148
26 Jake Kostecki 74

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