Fabian Coulthard beat Scott McLaughlin as DJR Team Penske completed a Phillip Island clean-sweep on Sunday, while Anton De Pasquale took a breakthrough podium finish.
The win is Coulthard’s first since the Sunday race at Winton in May 2018, and restores the 124-point gap between the two Penske drivers in the standings.
Thanks to new pitlane closure rules that are on trial this weekend, the first stint was over in the blink of an eye. McLaughlin pitted from the lead on Lap 5, the rest of the frontrunners coming on over the next four laps. The stops shook the order up, with Tickford Ford drivers Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters ending up first and second on corrected order thanks to short fuelling. Mostert didn’t even bother taking on new rubber during his Lap 7 stop, sticking with the same tires he started the race with.
McLaughlin dropped all the way back to fifth in the effective order, with De Pasquale and Coulthard also passing the reigning champion. McLaughlin, still running fifth, took himself out of the battle by making his second stop on Lap 16. Mostert and Waters both came in a lap later, followed by De Pasquale on Lap 18 and Coulthard on Lap 19.
Long stops for the Tickford drivers dropped them to the back of that lead pack, both of them ending up behind teammate Will Davison.
Coulthard, meanwhile, came out and took the lead of the race. De Pasquale got out ahead of McLaughlin, but a mistake midway through Southern Loop on Lap 21 was all it took for McLaughlin to restore the Penske one-two. At the midway point of the race there was little between the two Shell Mustangs, Coulthard’s leading by less than a second.
Davison led a Tickford trio in positions four to six, Mostert ahead of Waters, while Shane van Gisbergen came home best of the Triple Eight Holdens in seventh.
Rick Kelly won out in a fierce battle for eighth, which included a hard-charging effort from Tim Slade, who rolled the dice on a long middle stint and had the best tyre life in the closing stages.
The BJR driver couldn’t quite nab that eighth place, though, settling for ninth after being made to work hard to pass first David Reynolds, and then teammate Nick Percat.
Jamie Whincup had a very quiet race, finishing up 12th behind Reynolds.
James Courtney had a shocker of a race, started by clumsy contact with Todd Hazelwood on Lap 1 as the pair battled over seventh place. for which he got a 15s penalty. During the race he suffered from a puncture twice; during a high-speed off at Turn 1 on Lap 13 and the puncture 10 laps from the finish, Courtney finishing up last, two laps behind the winner.
Hazelwood recovered to 16th after his involuntarily trip through the gravel after contact with Courtney on the first lap.
- Source: Motorsport Network
- Photocredit: Shell