Fabian Coulthard has won an epic opener to the Repco SuperSprint The Bend while Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin were penalised for separate incidents, including one with each other.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team man earned the win in Race 25 by finally being able to breach the defences of a struggling Shane van Gisbergen just two laps from home, with Jack Le Brocq claiming second in his Supercheap Auto Mustang.
Bryce Fullwood was fourth across the finish line after 24 laps but classified third after McLaughlin had 15 seconds added to his race time for unloading Lee Holdsworth less than three laps from the end.
Andre Heimgartner and Cameron Waters rounded out the top five, van Gisbergen was shuffled all the way back to ninth, and Holdsworth ended up 13th.
McLaughlin was officially 15th while Whincup never really recovered from the 15-second penalty which he had to serve at his compulsory pit stop having knocked the former off the road on Lap 1, and took 18th.
The net effect is that McLaughlin’s championship lead is up eight points to 151 over Whincup with 800 more on offer before the season is out.
McLaughlin led the field away from the outside of the front row but came under heavy pressure from the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver before the lap was out.
Whincup went for the small gap which had been left by the Shell V-Power Racing Team driver as they braked for Turn 17 but locked the rears of his ZB Commodore and made contact with the #17 Mustang which put both on the grass.
Car #88 resumed in 10th position while McLaughlin dropped to 18th, with van Gisbergen (#97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore) there to pick up the pieces having put a tidy move on pole-sitter Chaz Mostert at Turn 5.
The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver made a relatively slow start but looked to have at least held onto third position when van Gisbergen was able to squeeze through the narrowest of gaps at the sweeper.
Those two took up first and second, ahead of Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore), Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Mustang), and Le Brocq.
They remained that way until the pit stop cycle, after which van Gisbergen held onto the lead while Le Brocq rose to second courtesy of an early, and speedy, tyre change for #55 from his Tickford crew.
Mostert had emerged an effective third despite stalling when the #25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore was dropped from its jacks, but was wanting for pace for the second stint.
Coulthard passed him on Lap 12 and Holdsworth (#5 Truck Assist Mustang) one later, before those Ford drivers became part of a four-car train when Le Brocq got bottled up behind van Gisbergen.
The Tickford pilot went down the inside of #97 at Turn 17 on Lap 18 but could not make the move stick and instead gave up his spot to Coulthard when he was held wide at the next corner.
Le Brocq reclaimed second when he threw his car down the inside of #12 at the Turn 6 hairpin on Lap 22 before going to the outside of van Gisbergen at Turn 17.
Again, the Triple Eight driver kept him out there but he was left vulnerable to Coulthard, who made the pass for first position as they ran up the main straight.
That enabled Le Brocq to once more move back into second spot, and that settled matters at the very head of the field.
Just behind, a recovering McLaughlin had spun Holdsworth at Turn 14, taking fourth, before passing van Gisbergen at Turn 13 on Lap 23, with Fullwood (#2 Mobil 1 Middy’s ZB Commodore) following #17 through.
Notification soon came of a 15-second penalty for McLaughlin, meaning his third at the chequered flag turned into a 15th, but also a maiden podium for the WAU driver who was a couple of seconds back when they crossed the stripe for the final time.
Heimgartner (#7 Ned Mustang) and Rick Kelly (#15 Castrol Mustang) made it two Kelly Racing entries in the top six, split by Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang).
Rounding out the top 10 were Scott Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore), Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore), van Gisbergen, and James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang).
Mostert continued to give up ground and eventually finished 12th, while Whincup went from 14th immediately after the CPS cycle to 19th at the end.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship field is back on track tomorrow from 09:20 local time/09:50 AEST for a pair of 10-minute qualifying sessions.
Results: Race 25, Repco SuperSprint The Bend Updated
|1||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:32.9834|
|2||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:33.4527|
|3||2||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:37.2701|
|4||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:37.6440|
|5||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:38.1465|
|6||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:38.8127|
|7||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:39.1679|
|8||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:40.4591|
|9||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:43.6455|
|10||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:46.1716|
|11||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:46.6589|
|12||5||Truck Assist Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:49.0424|
|13||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:50.1632|
|14||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:50.2339|
|15||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||24||45:50.8658|
|16||34||UNIT Racing||Zane Goddard||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:53.0786|
|17||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:54.2309|
|18||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:55.9407|
|19||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||24||45:56.4652|
|20||3||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||24||46:06.5984|
|21||22||Team SYDNEY||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||24||46:08.9217|
|22||19||Local Legends Racing||Alex Davison||Holden Commodore ZB||24||46:09.4526|
|23||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||24||46:22.7603|
|24||14||TRG Transport||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||24||47:02.5662|
Drivers’ championship Updated
|5||Shane van Gisbergen||1413|
|12||Anton De Pasquale||1101|
|14||Jack Le Brocq||1034|