MELBOURNE, Victoria, Australia — Cameron Waters and Richie Stanaway took their first Virgin Australia Supercars victories with a strong performance in Sunday’s Wilson Security Sandown 500. Driving the Monster Energy Prodrive Racing Australia Ford Falcon, the duo led for most of the race, which was run to time after a major accident caused it to be stopped for more than an hour.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m so pumped,” Waters said. “Actually, I didn’t think I was going to keep him off, and I don’t know if Scotty [McLaughlin] used his tire up in that last stint a bit, I managed to hold the gap and we won.”
““I’m so pumped for the guys, they’ve put massive hours in, pushing the upgrades through. [Stanaway] did a bloody mega job, got me the lead and I managed to hold onto it.”
The big story on race morning was that Jonathon Webb, owner of Tekno Autosports and Will Davison’s co-driver, has been fined AU$15,000 for reckless driving that caused his Holden Commodore and the Tim Blanchard Racing Holden of Todd Hazelwood to have a massive crash in Saturday’s first Race for the Grid. Both drivers were uninjured, but Hazelwood and co-driver Tim Blanchard were on the sidelines as the car was destroyed in the massive rollover crash.
“I thought they were pretty fair and reasonable,” he said of the stewards. “I was in a catch-22. As a driver I wanted as little (a penalty) as possible but from a team owner’s point of view having consistency is what we’ve been working on with the stewards.”
“Obviously no one loves a penalty but I can see their logic and see the consistency with what they’ve done in the year. It’s going to be what it’s going to be I guess.”
Stanaway and Alexandre Premat would start on the front row, and it was Stanaway who dragged away from the line with Premat in second. Dean Canto got taken off at Turn four in the Bottle-O Racing Team Ford, as was Ash Walsh’s Brad Jones Racing Holden, who got turned by Taz Douglas. While both Canto and Walsh got going again,- Douglas’ day ended as he destroyed the tire barrier at Turn six after a puncture, bringing out the safety car, then the red flag on lap four.
Shane van Gisbergen, who had a rough Saturday in the Red Bull Holden, made up eight spots on lap one to get up to 13th. Craig Lowndes, van Gisbergen’s Triple Eight teammate, was the only other regular driver to start the race, and got up to 17th from 23rd.
After the delay, the race restarted. However, due to daylight constraints, the race would now be decided over a time period plus one lap. Two hours and 24 minutes was the allotted time, and after two laps behind the safety car, the race would restart.
Lowndes got out of the car and co-driver Steven Richards got in before the restart, though time was lost as Richards had to get ready to get in the car as Lowndes came down pit lane.
Stanaway got a nice jump over Premat at the restart, with a car length between the two Falcons.
Van Gisbergen was making moves, and got up to sixth. 2.2 seconds separated Stanaway and Premat, with Paul Dumbrell only 0.1 second further back. Luke Youlden fell off at Turn nine after contact with Steve Owen on the way in, and dropped to eighth.
Dumbrell got around Premat on lap 15, but was still 2.55 seconds behind Stanaway. Alex Davison fell off at the first turn, dropping him down to 23rd, while Owen got a five-second time penalty at his next stop for the contact with Youlden. Davison pitted on lap 17, but the Lucas Dumbrell crew bobbled the right rear tire, causing a slow stop, and then the tire came off the car on lap 18, leading to the car going slowly around and a penalty accrued later.
The gap was closing down to 1.852 between Stanaway and Dumbrell, and was down to just under a second on lap 17. The lead duo pitted on lap 20, handing Premat the lead by 3.2 seconds over Van Gisbergen. Dumbrell got out ahead of Stanaway, giving him the effective lead.
Owen pitted on lap 18, and van Gisbergen nearly rear ended him as the Super Cheap Auto Ford entered the lane, but the Kiwi’s quick hands saved the day. Van Gisbergen passed Premat into the pits, but would hand over to co-driver Matty Campbell. Macaulay Jones grabbed the lead from Webb.
Webb grabbed the lead for a lap before Walsh took it during the pit stop cycle. Dumbrell and Stanaway got back up to 2-3 by lap 30, but Dumbrell had a nearly seven-second lead over the Monster Energy Ford driver. Dumbrell, however, had a major issue, as a right rear tire separated from the rim on lap 35, handing the effective lead to Stanaway.
Campbell was doing a great job in fourth, hounding Premat with no gap between the two. Stanaway closed up on Walsh, and the gap was just 0.004 seconds as Walsh got passed on lap 39 out of the final turn. Stanaway had 15 laps before he had to hand over to co-driver Cameron Waters. Premat would take over second when Walsh pitted, 4.9 seconds behind Stanaway.
Youlden and Canto were battling hard, with the Bottle-O Falcon taking severe damage as the Penrite Commodore closed gaps all over the course. The primary drivers were getting ready to have the co-drivers hand over the cars at the 54-lap minimum mark, and Stanaway was first to hand over to Waters on lap 55. Stanaway was losing time to Premat, but Waters got out ahead of Premat’s co-driver Scott McLaughlin, and a change of tires helped the Monster Energy Falcon, with a two-second gap between Waters and McLaughlin.
Campbell had a problematic pit stop on lap 55, stalling the Red Bull Holden. Dumbrell held the lead from Richards by 0.762 seconds, but Waters was closing in fast. Dumbrell pitted on lap 57 to hand over to Jamie Whincup, with Whincup and Dumbrell struggling during the driver change.
At the halfway mark, Waters had a 2.3-second lead over McLaughlin, with Matt Campbell a further second back. David Reynolds had a right front tire fail on lap 69, causing serious damage to the Penrite Commodore, and the repairs dropped him to 23rd.
Todd Kelly smashed through one of the styrofoam Dunlop advertising boards, getting it stuck on his Nissan’s nose. He shook it free on lap 72, but it was on the track. Meanwhile, Ash Walsh and Brad Jones Racing possibly could have fallen foul of the 54-lap minimum rest time, and the stewards were looking into it, and at press time, no more information was coming.
Scott Pye pulled his Walkinshaw Racing Commodore on lap 79 with a stuck throttle, losing 12 laps. Van Gisbergen would take over from Campbell on lap 86, and the Kiwi came out in 12th.
The Waters-McLaughlin battle closed up, as McLaughlin was second fastest on lap 83, and the gap was down to almost six-tenths. Three-tenths was the read on lap 86, and the cars had barely a space between them.
Waters pitted on lap 86, allowing McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard to climb into second, and despite a sloppy pad change, the fuel fill covered it and not much time was lost. McLaughlin pitted on lap 87, handing the effective lead to Waters with the undercut as McLaughlin was held up by Rick Kelly. The gap by lap 92 was 2.15 seconds between Waters and McLaughlin, as Shane van Gisbergen was 14.630 seconds behind.
With under a half-hour to go, Waters had a 2.2-second gap over McLaughlin, while the Macauley Jones/Nick Percat entry retired with steering issues.
Chaz Mostert got by van Gisbergen after the Red Bull Holden’s right front tire failed going into Turn one. Van Gisbergen hurdled through the gravel trap, came out the other side, and headed for the pits. He dropped to 17th, but was up to 16th by the end.
With 15 minutes left, McLaughlin was now just under two seconds behind Waters. It was a Ford 1-2-3-4 sweep, with Waters, McLaughlin, Mostert and Coulthard being the quartet. Garth Tander was the first Holden in fifth place.
Five minutes left, and the gap was down to 1.3 seconds, and continued to fall slightly as the clock ticked down. As time ran out, the gap was down to 0.7 seconds, but with one to go, Waters held on to win the Wilson Security Sandown 500. Tander got around Coulthard for fourth right at the death.
McLaughlin had an 84-point lead in the Championship title over Whincup. He said he backed off to protect his tires in the wake of the Red Bull HRT failures.
“We were worried about the tyre,” McLaughlin said. “We had a few marks on the tyres after my first stint. I was relaxing there a little bit and had a go at the end but [Waters] was driving amazingly well, hitting his marks and doing everything right.”
“It was our main goal this weekend to try to beat our championship contenders and, if we could, win the race. We couldn’t do that today, the best thing for us was to finish second and ahead of everyone else. It’s almost a win for me, a nice warm-up for Bathurst and hopefully we come back stronger at the 1000.”
Waters and Stanaway hold the lead in the Pirtek Enduro Cup, but as Waters did a burnout, the team took in the Sandown win.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better result,” Stanaway said. “It’s so surreal. Can’t thank the team enough, they’ve given us an amazing car this weekend, really put a lot of work into giving us a good package.
1. Richie Stanaway/Cameron Waters
2. Alexandre Premat/Scott McLaughlin
3. Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen
4. Garth Tander/James Golding
5. Fabian Coulthard/Tony d’Alberto
6. Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell
7. James Moffat/Richard Muscat
8. Lee Holdsworth/Karl Reindler
9. Tim Slade/Ash Walsh
10. Mark Winterbottom/Dean Canto