SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia – Shane van Gisbergen and Alexandre Prémat overcame a 10-second restart procedure penalty to win the Saturday race at the Castrol Gold Coast 600.
For van Gisbergen, it was his third win in as many seasons at the Gold Coast, while Prémat picked up his first victory as a co-driver.
van Gisbergen’s level of excitement post-race belied the significance that his run had on the championship fight. “That was pretty cool,” he said. “Unfortunate penalty, but we fought back! The car was amazing and Alex was super fast as well.”
Scott McLaughlin and David Wall finished second in the event, and Scott was happiest after the race for his teammate. “Stoked for Wally, his first podium! We just didn’t quite have enough for Shane, but after the last couple of weeks, it’s fantastic to get the surfboard (trophy),” he said.
Whincup was pleased with his result as well. “The car was good, he said. “I was hoping that the Safety Car would give me an opportunity to have a crack at Scotty at the end there, but he was too quick. Happy with third!”
Though Whincup and Dumbrell managed to finish third, Whincup lost ground on van Gisbergen in the points standings and the gap between the two now stands at 160 points.
The race started disastrously for the Bathurst 1000 winning tandem of Will Davison and Jonathon Webb. Webb drove too deep into the fourth turn, and clipped the No. 23, which then struck the No. 9 car. Webb would be assessed a drive-through penalty for his part in the incident, and his car would finish a disappointing 16th.
The race was clean from there until lap 23, when the No. 6 driven by Jack Le Brocq clipped the inside wall too early coming into the left-hand turn off of the beach straight. This sent the first Safety Car of the day on track, and send the field into the pits. At this point, Prémat and Dumbrell were 1-2, and Dumbrell was forced to double-stack behind his teammate and came out of the pits in fifth.
On the restart, Prémat drove off the front of the field a shade too early and was given a 10-second penalty for violating the restart procedures, to be served during a green-flag pit stop.
Lap 35 brought the second Safety Car of the event when Karl Reindler clipped the wall much like Le Brocq did earlier. His incident, however, took place exiting the first chicane and sent him back across the racing line, nearly forcing the No. 888 of Steven Richards into him. Most drivers came back down pit road again here, and most of the primary drivers got behind the wheel at this point.
From here came the longest green-flag stint of the race, one which saw van Gisbergen drive away so far that he served the penalty on lap 64 during a green flag pit stop and still came out in front of Whincup! McLaughlin also drove through the field during this run, settling his No. 33 Wilson Security Racing GRM Volvo right in front of Whincup on pit exit for the second position.
The major event of the race took place on lap 96. Garth Tander and Fabian Coulthard were battling for position exiting the final corner of the circuit, and both drivers tried multiple times to block and counter as they went down the straight. Eventually, Tander’s No. 2 Holden Racing Team Machine hooked the left-rear of Coulthard’s No. 12 and sent the Ford Falcon into the pit wall at full speed.
Coulthard was understandably unhappy after he exited the car. “It was unnecessary, more than anything,” he said. “The disappointing thing is that it was easily preventable.”
“You have to go back a couple of steps and how did he get in that position, you know? He was into my rear bumper on the exit of the last corner throughout the corner. Without him unloading me and taking the drive off my rear wheel, there’s no way he’d be in the position that he’s in. He can think what he likes, but at the end of the day, I expected a little bit more from him.”
Ryan Story, DJR Team Penske team principal, was nothing short of livid after the incident: “If you wanna send him, send him in a corner where it’s safe, he said. “Forget about the fact that it’s reckless driving, could there possibly be a more dangerous place on the circuit to send someone? Are you kidding me?”
Tander claimed that Coulthard moved over and attempted to force the No. 2 into the wall, and that he had no choice but to turn him.
“He was just weaving side to side. I tried to pass him on on side and he shut down that side, I went back to the other side and I actually got overlap on him and he came across the front of me. The way I understand it is that if you’ve got overlap, then you can’t just squeeze someone and he took himself out across the front of my car.
After the cleanup from the wreck, a final restart came with two laps to go, and van Gisbergen held on for the win. The Virgin Australia Supercars will return tomorrow for the Gold Coast 600 finale.
For more information on the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, visit http://www.supercars.com.au/.