DARWIN, Northern Territory, Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — V8SC photo —
Sunday was a stellar day to be David Reynolds.
The Rod Nash Racing, Bottle-O-sponsored driver made it perfect from start-to-finish, rolling off from the pole and leading 38 of the race’s 70 laps to capture his first V8 Supercars Championship victory since Race 2 of the 2013 Gold Coast 600 in Sunday’s 200 km SKYCITY Triple Crown Darwin finale event.
The race was round 15 of the V8 Supercars Championship season, and the victory was Reynolds’ second career V8SC win.
“It’s a relief really,” Reynolds said of finally getting back to UBET Victory Lane. “We had a puncture and we were really fast on the hards, [so] we had to do 60 laps on softs, [which is] unheard of, really.”
“It’s awesome to drive this Bottle-O car — it drove well all weekend long. After the struggles we had yesterday, we turned it around and won the race [today.] It’s unbelievable.”
Outside polesitter Fabian Coulthard got the jump on pole man David Reynolds heading into turn one on the opening lap, running away to lead the opening stint ahead of the Fords of Reynolds and Chaz Mostert.
An off-road excursion for Scott McLaughlin and early pit stops for six-time champion Jamie Whincup and Nissan’s Michael Caruso left the trio at the back of the field, while up front, Coulthard ran off the road in traffic at lap 12 to hand the lead to Reynolds for the first time officially.
Coulthard fell to third before regaining the handle on his No. 14 FREIGHTLINER Commodore, but his loss was a 1.5 second gain for Reynolds, who held the lead until his pit stop at lap 19, which handed the lead to Red Bull’s Craig Lowndes for a lap before his lap 20 stop. McLaughlin took the point at the stripe on lap 20, as he and Volvo teammate David Wall stayed out to briefly run one-two.
When McLaughlin finally came down for his service at lap 23, Reynolds reassumed the lead with a 4.4-second gap over Mostert, who pitted two laps prior to the Bottle-O Ford. That gap held until Reynolds’ final pit stop at lap 30, when he took on fuel to the finish and handed the lead back to Mostert.
During the final scheduled cycle, Mostert led past the halfway point (lap 35) ahead of Coulthard and van Gisbergen, before making his final stop at lap 40 and handing the lead to Prodrive teammate Mark Winterbottom.
Winterbottom, Andre Heimgartner, and David Wall all led the event during the cycle, but just as Wall was pitting to hand the lead back to Reynolds, the polesitter drove off the road hard at lap 47 — trimming his 2.6 second lead down to nine tenths of a second and setting up a nail-biting finish.
Though Mostert closed the gap down to as little as two-tenths of a second inside of 10 laps to go, he could not get close enough to challenge Reynolds for the win over the last handful of circuits, settling for the runner-up spot at the checkered flag and standing on the podium for all three Darwin events as a result.
“We started fourth and had a pretty good race,” Mostert said of his drive. “Awesome to get another podium though. The car was strong all weekend. We sat behind David and Fabian [Coulthard] most of the day, and the car wasn’t quite as on the money as Dave’s was, but we’ll just move on to the next round and see if we can’t get another [win] there [at Townsville.]”
Coulthard rounded out the podium in third. followed by van Gisbergen and Winterbottom, who extends his championship lead to 95 points over Lowndes.
Nick Percat, James Courtney, Jason Bright, Tim Slade and Dale Wood, who rebounded from going off-track at turn one with 22 laps to go, capped off the top ten.
Both Red Bull Racing cars had problems in the final stint, with first Whincup and then Lowndes having to pit after delamination issues with their soft tires (a problem where the tire tread separates from the casing itself).
Lowndes’ stop at lap 54 came while he was running third and chasing down Mostert for the runner-up spot, a heartbreaking end to the day for the three-time champion and 100-time race winner, who finished 15th.
“We looked at the tire degradation from the Saturday races, but we didn’t take into account the higher shoulder temperatures,” Red Bull Racing Australia’s Mark Dutton said. “It was simply a miscalculation on our part — we had planned to leave both Craig and Jamie out on the softs until the end, but obviously that plan changed with the issue. It’s disappointing, for sure, and we’ll just learn from it and head forward.”
Whincup finished one lap down in 22nd, and falls to eighth in points as a result.
The V8 Supercars Championship returns to action July 10-12, with the running of the Castrol Edge Townsville 400 at the Townsville Street Circuit in Queensland.
RESULTS: V8 Supercars Championship; Race 15; SKYCITY Triple Crown Darwin; Hidden Valley Raceway; June 21, 2015
- David Reynolds
- Chaz Mostert
- Fabian Coulthard
- Shane van Gisbergen
- Mark Winterbottom
- Nick Percat
- James Courtney
- Jason Bright
- Tim Slade
- Dale Wood
- Scott McLaughlin
- Garth Tander
- Rick Kelly
- James Moffat
- Craig Lowndes
- Scott Pye
- Todd Kelly
- Lee Holdsworth
- Andre Heimgartner
- David Wall
- Michael Caruso
- Jamie Whincup
- Tim Blanchard
- Will Davison
- Ash Walsh (DNF)