A perfect pit stop strategy has seen Shell V-Power Racing Team driver Scott McLaughlin sensationally win his first ever race on the streets of Surfers Paradise this afternoon and claim a memorable victory at the Vodafone Golda Coast 600.
McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat started from 13th position on the grid which is now the furthest back any driver has ever started from to win a race at GC600. James Courtney and Jack Perkins started from 11th in 2015.
In an intriguing twist, ahead of the final events of the season six-time champion Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Jamie Whincup finished second today and assumed the Championship lead for the first time this year.
“It’s all good. Happy with the result, but hey pace and being a bit more aggressive on strategy, yeah they deserve the win,” Whincup said.
It will now be an intense five-driver fight with four races remaining with Whincup 17 points in front of McLaughlin’s Shell V-Power team-mate Fabian Coulthard, who fought back from a poor qualifying performance to finish ninth.
McLaughlin is just 27 points behind Whincup with Chaz Mostert also in the hunt for his first Championship along with a third Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. Just 189 points separates the top five.
After starting from position two and getting a great start by co-driver Paul Dumbrell, Whincup led until McLaughlin pitted earlier than the race leaders and had enough pace and just enough fuel to hold on and win the race.
McLaughlin had to push his car down pit lane after it ran out of fuel during his victory burnout.
“I don’t mind pushing my car if it’s pushing it into victory lane,” McLaughlin said.
“Alex Premat drove an unbelievable drive in the first stint. He set us up. Oh my God this is so good after Bathurst.”
Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Matt Campbell started from pole position in front of teammates Whincup and Craig Lowndes before the defending champion finished third. Lowndes finished fourth. It was young Queenslander Campbell’s first ever podium finish in Supercars.
“Pretty decent day. Us three at the front it was really good, and then Scotty came through and congratulations to them they pulled a great strategy,” van Gisbergen said.
“Obviously got good fuel economy, so we’ve got a bit to work on.”
Ford fans had double reason to celebrate this afternoon with Chaz Mostert and co-driver Steve Owen claiming the PIRTEK Enduro Cup for 2017 with a seventh placing today.
The Supercheap Auto Racing Team duo won yesterday’s opening 300km race and today leapfrogged their Prodrive Racing teammates, Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway who suffered major damage in a collision early in the race and could only manage a 21st placing.
It’s the first time a Ford team has ever won the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
McLaughlin’s co-driver Alex Premat, who spun out early in the wet conditions yesterday, forced his way through the pack today after starting in the middle of the field. He made up a number of positions before handing over to the young kiwi.
Premat won last year’s PIRTEK Enduro Cup alongside Shane van Gisbergen with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and today celebrated his first race victory with the Shell Ford Team.
The next event on the calendar is the ITM Auckland SuperSprint which will be held from 3-5 November at Pukekohe Park Raceway.