Coulthard beats McLaughlin at Phillip Island

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 14/04/2019
  • By Mitchell Adam

Fabian Coulthard claimed his first Supercars victory in 11 months, beating Shell V-Power Racing team-mate Scott McLaughlin in the second leg of the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint.

The DJR Team Penske Mustangs were the class of the field, Coulthard jumping polesitter and early leader McLaughlin during the first pitstops.

He remained ahead during the second round, and managed the race from there, crossing the line 0.6793 seconds ahead.

Coulthard's last victory came at Winton last May, and he consolidates his position as McLaughlin's closest challenger in the championship.

“We work so hard as a team, Scott has had a lot of wins this year, which is a credit to all those guys, they’ve done a fantastic job,” Coulthard said.

“To finally get one is awesome, I can’t thank my crew enough.”

Asked if he was surprised to jump McLaughlin in the stops, he added: “A little bit. I was a little bit shocked.

“I’m not sure what happened to Scott on one of his outlaps, because I was expecting a red car to go blowing past.

“But thankfully we had great pitstops, we had a fast car, it looked after its tyres, it ticked all the boxes.”

Penrite Racing's Anton De Pasquale took an impressive third, 4.1903s adrift despite late concerns over fuel, the 23-year-old's maiden Supercars podium.

McLaughlin got the best of the start against Coulthard, and the Shell Fords pulled away from De Pasquale, who started fourth, in the opening laps.

The Saturday race winner led by 1.5s when he started the pitstop cycles on lap five, which shook up the order for the second stint.

Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters were running fifth and sixth but emerged effectively first and second, with Tickford short-filling both Mustangs and not changing tyres on Mostert's.

Both Shell Fords were also jumped by De Pasquale as Coulthard got ahead of McLaughlin after pitting two laps later.

McLaughlin was first in again for his second pitstop, from the back of the four-car pack led by Waters on lap 17.

He vaulted Mostert and Waters, who came in the next time around, but De Pasquale emerged ahead from his stop two laps later.

Coulthard jumped them all from fourth in the second-stint order after pitting on lap 20, as McLaughlin snuck past De Pasquale at Turn 2.

With the stops complete and 25 laps remaining, Coulthard held a one-second advantage over his stablemate.

The gap remained relatively stable as the laps ticked by, the pair dropping De Pasquale gradually.

There was no clear challenge from McLaughlin on the way home, Coulthard taking the 11th victory of his Supercars career.

He now trails McLaughlin by 124 points, the same margin as pre-event after the pair traded one-two finishes. 

“I’m really happy with my weekend, it’s been a big week for those guys away, two weeks on the road and to come away with three one-twos is massive,” McLaughlin said.

“We’ll have a little think about it in the debrief, talk about a few things, but the idea is for the team to win and we’ve done that on multiple occasions in this past couple of weeks.”

De Pasquale could ultimately not go with the lead Fords, but did enough to hold off the Tickford Mustangs behind him.

Amid suggestions he was running low on fuel, De Pasquale crossed the line 1.7s ahead of Will Davison in fourth.

A maiden Supercars podium comes in De Pasquale's 41st start, with his previous-best result a seventh.

“It’s awesome. It was obviously really good to start off with fourth in qualifying. I nailed the start and then just followed the Penske boys for most of the race,” he said.

“Obviously the team had a really good strategy, I was in clean air for most of the race and it’s a credit to them, it’s what they deserve.

“I had about 10 [laps] to go and Will wasn’t going to catch me, but then they said save fuel and obviously that’s very stressful when you’re fighting for your first podium.

“You’ve got to save fuel and try and go fast, but in the end it all worked out and I think we’ll have a great night tonight.”

Davison was the best Tickford Mustang by the time the pitstops played out, in fourth and having run a more-conventional strategy.

He stayed there, leading home Mostert and Waters and making it five Mustangs in the top six places.

The Red Bull Holden Team's troubled weekend finished with a quiet seventh for Shane van Gisbergen, 14s behind Coulthard, with Jamie Whincup 12th.

Rick Kelly spent the second half of the race trying to defend eighth from Nick Percat and David Reynolds.

They were all, though, caught by a charging Tim Slade, who started 20th.

Slade ran significantly longer before making his second stop, ultimately emerging in 16th with 15 laps to go, but on fresher rubber.

The Freightliner Commodore passed Reynolds and Brad Jones Racing team-mate Percat, but could not snatch eighth from Kelly.

Todd Hazelwood was spun out of seventh at Turn 6 on the opening lap by James Courtney.

Stewards handed Courtney a 15-second penalty, and his day got worse with a pair of right-front tyre failures, finishing last and two laps down.

Hazelwood fell behind the back of the pack after the spin, ultimately recovering to 16th.

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