The Debrief: Drought-breakers and money-makers

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 02/08/2019
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

It was one-apiece in the heavyweight battle between the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and Shell V-Power Racing at Ipswich.

Queensland Raceway again turned on a mixture of hand-to-hand and strategic combat, which ended with just 0.7 seconds between the key protagonists on Sunday.

Supercars.com takes a look back at five big talking points from the weekend that was.

Triple Eight makes a step...

Whincup’s drought-breaking Saturday victory was Red Bull HRT’s third of the season, and undoubtedly its best.

This was not a case of Triple Eight winning at a track it always does, like Symmons Plains, or profiting from the weather in Townsville.

It was the result of brilliantly executing all facets; a fast car, a perfect pitstop and some old-fashioned, opening-lap muscle from the driver.

Whincup’s 114th win was nearly 10 months in the making, and it was vintage Triple Eight.

While he wasn’t as sharp on Sunday, Shane van Gisbergen picked up the mantle, and very nearly made it two from two for the team...

But McLaughlin still too good

McLaughlin may have been outplayed in the opening moments of the Saturday race, but he was sublime on Sunday.

His first lap was hailed by team boss Ryan Story as “absolutely masterful”, and the way he managed the closing stages was equally impressive.

For all of Triple Eight’s efforts, the combination of McLaughlin and Mustang was still too good, as two ARMOR ALL Poles and a win attested.

It was the perfect follow-up to a troubled Townsville, where a tangle with David Reynolds ended his winning streak, and his heated reaction raised eyebrows.

This time, he brushed off his Saturday lap one misfortune as “good racing”, and then won plenty of fan points with a cheeky response to two big fines on Sunday...

Coulthard goes missing

Among the heavyweights, the real curiosity of the weekend was Fabian Coulthard, and how he could so suddenly have fallen from the pace.

In a resurgent year for the Kiwi that included at least one podium at each of the previous seven events, the wheels fell off at Ipswich.

He was at a loss to explain a ninth-to-10th run on Saturday, and things only got worse a day later, finishing 18th from 11th on the grid after an early tangle with Anton De Pasquale.

Making it all the stranger was the fact the Shell team tested at the circuit the previous week, from which Coulthard had gained no inkling of the struggle ahead.

If McLaughlin’s Townsville trouble had left a glimmer of hope that Coulthard could be a title threat yet, Ipswich almost immediately snuffed that out.

Davison’s delight

The feel-good story of the weekend was delivered on Saturday, as Will Davison broke a 1,021-day podium drought, and handed 23Red Racing its first.

On the same day his close friend Whincup was ending his own dry spell, Davison also delivered, and on merit.

He’d been in the top three at the end of each of the first three practice sessions, qualified third, and made two aggressive moves on McLaughlin stick during the race.

While it’s been easy to pin Davison’s 2019 form on the strength of the Mustang, out-gunning all his Tickford stablemates on Saturday was undeniably impressive.

Chaz Mostert was still the squad’s best overall weekend performer with two thirds, but at a track where he’s always excelled, the #55 crew had hoped for more.

Percat’s rescue mission

Nick Percat’s ninth place on Sunday was more than just a major recovery for car #8; it gave Brad Jones Racing a positive to take from a hugely trying weekend

The Albury squad had two of its three cars run out of fuel on Saturday; Tim Slade’s after a fuel leak, and Macauley Jones’ after an issue prevented refuelling at the pitstop.

Jones then had a rear-end failure in his ARMOR ALL Qualifying on Sunday, triggering red flags that also cost Slade his chance of progressing to Q2.

Percat’s stall on the grid gave the sad sight of having all three BJR entries in the bottom four during lap one, before the South Aussie began his charge to a second top 10 in two days.

The other hero of the weekend’s mid-pack battle was Andre Heimgartner, who led home team-mate Rick Kelly in seventh on Sunday, giving Kelly Racing some hope amid a rough run.

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