COULTHARD TAKES CHAOTIC VICTORY AT PHILLIP ISLAND
It was a question of who hadn’t suffered a puncture in today’s Supercars race at Phillip Island, with the majority of the field suffering major tyre issues during the 57 lap race.
It was a DJR Team Penske front row as both Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard lapped under the track record. McLaughlin set Pole with a scorching 1m 29.363s lap, 0.119s ahead of teammate Coulthard, who led championship leader Shane van Gisbergen, Mark Winterbottom and the top five was completed by Chaz Mostert.
The race was chaotic at the start as a multi-car incident at Turn Two took out a number of cars including Craig Lowndes, Rick Kelly, Lee Holdsworth, James Courtney, Nick Percat, David Reynolds and Todd Kelly, who collided heavily with the marshall’s post. A major winner was Dale Wood, who climbed from 22nd to 12th on the opening lap, but he was deemed to have jumped the start. The penalty, however, was not needed as the Erebus Motorsport driver retired after a puncture.
Punctures were the story of the day as Wood was the first of three punctures to happen within a lap of each other. Mostert was next, then Moffat, as the two DJR Team Penske cars led from Winterbottom free of the tyre problems that continue to plague the rest of the field.
Percat was next to suffer a failure and hit the wall at Turn Three, damaging suspension, while Reynolds suffered mechanical failure. Lap 14 saw the first leader head for the pits, as Triple Eight were the first to move bringing Whincup in. McLaughlin and van Gisbergen made their pit stops on lap 18, but as McLaughlin was taking service, Coulthard arrived in the pits with a puncture from the lead.
McLaughlin re-entered the race as the leader but was deemed to dangerously entered his pit box and had to serve a 15s penalty. The tyre problems continued to cause issues for Scott Pye, Cameron Waters and Mostert, as a Safety Car was called to pick up the tyre debris.
15s penalties were handed out to van Gisbergen and Winterbottom for pit lane infringements, but another Safety car was called to recover James Courtney from the sand trap exiting MG, after getting a helping hand from Waters. Jason Bright suffered a puncture this time and did an extra lap on the burst rubber.
The surprise leader at the restart was Garth Tander, after making four pit stops, though a recovering Coulthard was surging his way towards the front and got there within the finish of the first lap of the restart, while Lowndes followed.
The restart caused congestion in the mid-pack, which caused Will Davison and Tim Slade to collide. Davison was given a drive through penalty for the incident. Lowndes was through to the lead, though had a 15s penalty to add to his final race time. If Brad Jones Racing hadn’t had enough drama, Percat lost another tyre at Honda and hit the innocent Alex Rullo. Rullo crabbed his way
Percat car caused the race to be completed under safety car conditions with Lowndes leading over the line but dropped to 12th after the penalty was applied, so at the end it was Coulthard, Whincup and Tander, who took his first podium since returning to GRM.
The Supercars action continues at 10:50 for Qualifying, then Race Six at 1350.
Date posted: April 22, 2017