MEDIA RELEASE/Supercars - Photo: Velocity Magazine Pukekohe Park Raceway has been confirmed as the location…
Scott McLaughlin took a pole position clean sweep for race 2 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at Phillip Island for the WD-40 500. David Reynolds followed up his excellent result from Saturday with 2nd on the grid. Rick Kelly also continued his great from with 3rd for the race. Fabian Coulthard, Michael Caruso, Craig Lowndes, Shane van Gisbergen, Chaz Mostert, Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander rounded out the top 10.
McLaughlin led the field away when the lights went out for the race start and was followed towards Turn 1 by Reynolds as the pack looked to gain places on the opening lap. There was contact between Caruso and a fast starting Anton De Pasquale as the lead group exited Siberia. The move forced Mark Winterbottom, who had also made an excellent start, to back off. Chaz Mostert then moved alongside his Tickford Racing teammate for the run towards the hayshed.
At the end of lap 1, McLaughlin and Reynolds maintained their starting position, Coulthard traded spots with Kelly, while Courtney moved into the top 10 at the expense of Tander and Lowndes. McLaughlin, Reynolds and Coulthard soon established a small gap to the next group of cars as the race quickly became an extended line of traffic, with small pockets of cars bunched nose to tail.
James Courtney’s race was short-lived as the Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodore ground to a halt on lap 8 at the entry to the pit access road. The Safety Car was called while the car was moved. Courtney was eventually able to bring the car into the pit lane.
Most of the leaders pitted immediately, with McLaughlin left stranded in his pit box as cars streamed down the pit lane. Rick Kelly benefited from the first cycle to take the race lead. At the end of the 10th lap Kelly led Reynolds, Caruso, McLaughlin and Coulthard. The race resumed on the 11th lap, with Andre Heimgartner fortunate not to lose control of his Nissan when he was pushed wide by Garth Tander at the restart. The Nissan forced into the dirt at the top of the Gardner Straight. Kelly was under pressure from Reynolds as McLaughlin looked to pass Caruso. The close action left Todd Hazelwood’s car with front end damage after an argument withe Richie Stanaway and Tim Blanchard over track position.
Kelly eased out to a 2.4 second lead over Reynolds as Mostert moved into 6th with a well judged pass on Mark Winterbottom. Simona De Silvestro led a 6 car freight train who were all disputing 16th place.
Scott McLaughlin was the first of the leading drivers to take a second stop on lap 27. He was soon followed by Mostert and Whincup. David Reynold stopped 1 lap later and just managed to keep the lead as McLaughlin flew down the front straight.
Rick Kelly returned to the track in an effective 3rd place after his final stop. McLaughlin then took control of the race with an almost identical move to race winning pass the day before.
After 36 laps Shane vanGisbergen was 1st and the only one yet to stop for a second time. McLaughlin, Reynolds, Kelly, Coulthard, Caruso, Lowndes, Mostert, Whicup and Tader rounded out the top 10. After his final stop, vanGisbergen resumed in 10th place. The fresher tyres were a bonus as he set out to make his way up the leader board.
Lee Holdsworth was forced to stop with another front bar for the bodywork and lost 4 laps as the team fixed the problem.
The Supercars have a short two week break before the teams make their was across the Nullarbor for the Perth Super Sprint 4-6 May.