It was a mixed weekend of fortunes for the Kiwi trio competing in the Coates Ipswich 400 at Queensland Raceway over the weekend. Both Fabian Coulthard and Shane van Gisbergen have slipped back in the overall points table to fifth and sixth with Scott McLachlan steady in seventh after the latest round of the Australian V8 Supercar Series.
Race 23 & 24 - McLaughlin on wrong side of V8 Supercars fortunes
Competing in Race 25 on Sunday Coulthard and the Lockwood Racing VF Commodore was a victim of the typical first lap biff and barge, dropping to 16th before pitting on lap 2 for the first of his 2 pitstops. It was a strategy governed by his position – try to make up spots out of synch with most others who ran a more conventional evenly spaced strategy.
It meant passing cars ‘in the pits’ rather than out on the track. It needed some clean driving and Coulthard managed that perfectly. The car however didn’t quite have the speed to storm up the field, the Lockwood Racing Commodore finishing the race in 11th, two spots better than qualifying.
“We got locked into that strategy" commented Coulthard. "We decided if we were getting bounced around a little bit at the start then we’d go for it. It wasn’t the strategy to win the race but from where we started it was about salvaging something. It certainly would have been nice to be a bit further up. It was all about looking after the tyres and bringing it home.”
Holden Racing Team has won at its second consecutive race meeting, this time with James Courtney standing on the top step at the Coates Hire Ipswich 400. Courtney led home Red Bull rival Craig Lowndes by 5.88sec, after starting from second on the grid.
It was James Moffat’s Nissan that got the jump off the startline, but Courtney looked menacing throughout the race – as did Lowndes.
And while Jamie Whincup came home sixth, he has snatched the Championship lead from Mark Winterbottom with 15 points separating the two.
Winterbottom suffered from a blown left rear tyre with 22 laps to go, a problem his FPR stablemate David Reynolds also had earlier in the race.
Ford Pepsi Max Crew’s Chaz Mostert finished once again on the podium, at a track that has been successful for him this and last year.
As the pit stops began, it was Courtney – with a set of green Dunlop soft tyres – who pounced.
“It all worked out… the only thing that went wrong was when I was doing the donuts, I blew the power steering,” Courtney said.
“Other than that, the thing was mint. The guys did a fantastic job to turning the car around overnight.”
Lowndes wanted to bounce back after horror Townsville – and he did.
“We were just trying to have a smart, clean race weekend for us," the Red Bull racer said.
“We qualified poorly and I put my hand up for it, I just didn't quite get the best out of the car, but the car was great in the race.
“It looked after its tyre and went through some strategy options, with one if we were stuck in traffic early in the race, get in the pits get out of the traffic and get some clean air which we did, and the car ran strong.
“We made an adjustment in that last pit stop and gave it a bit more front, which is what I needed over that longevity.”
Mostert said he just couldn’t catch Lowndes in the closing stages.
“We were trying to catch Craig in the last part there, but unfortunately we were just starting to loose the rear tyres. James was starting to come quick,” the young gun said.
“I felt like I was in a bit of a go-kart in the last lap there where you start to block at every corner, but he went around the outside and just locked the front and went off.”
Volvo's Scott McLaughlin was in the mix, but a lock up early sent him spearing off at turn three, rejoining back in the pack.
Meanwhile, it was a career best finish for Wilson Security DJR's Scott Pye in fourth.
Moffat – who scored his first career ARMOR ALL Pole Position for the race – managed fifth, with Whincup, Nick Percat, Michael Caruso, Garth Tander and Shane van Gisbergen completing the top 10.
The race has also invigorated Courtney’s Championship, jumping into fourth and just 30 points behind now third placed Craig Lowndes.
The next V8 Supercars event will be the Sydney Motorsport Park 400, from August 22-24.
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