22/05/2018

Image: 

Mark Horsburgh

Caption: 

Van-Gisbergen, McLaughlin and Coulthard, podium Winton 2018

Category: 


Fabian Coulthard led the way to a slice of history with the first-ever Kiwi podium shut-out in the latest race in the Virgin Australia Supercars at Winton, near Melbourne today.

Coulthard took advantage of a stalled-start by teammate and polesetter Scott McLaughlin, and from that point he produced a mistake-free drive to claim his first win of the year after a frustrating first half to the season for the Shell V-Powered Racing driver.

McLaughlin managed to recover when his team short-fuelled his Ford after an early pitstop to regain track position, pushing up to third.

Shane van Gisbergen, their fellow New Zealand rival from Red Bull Racing, again showed excellent pace to finish second, mirroring his efforts from Saturday.

It was the first time that New Zealand drivers have filled all spots on the podium, and they continue to dominate the championship standings with McLaughlin remaining top, van Gisbergen second with Coulthard’s win pushing him up to eighth.

There was also some reward for rookie Richie Stanaway with his first top-10 and he was the leading drive from the Tickford Racing team, while another Kiwi, Andre Heimgartner drove his Nissan to an impressive 11th placing.

“The Shell V-Powered car was on rails today and it was a pleasure to drive,” said Coulthard. “One and three for us and an all-Kiwi podium is a pretty cool moment.”

Van Gisbergen mirrored those comments.

“I haven’t driven that hard for a long time, it was so awesome just pushing hard the whole way. The car was fantastic and some good points this weekend. And a Kiwi one-two-three for the first time – how cool is that?” said van Gisbergen.

At the end of the 200km contest, Coulthard took the flag 11 seconds clear of van Gisbergen, who charged from seventh on the grid to prove the Shell Ford’s only threat.

Rick Kelly failed to repeat his opening-race heroics but banked a solid fourth ahead of Nissan team-mate Michael Caruso, and Scott Pye.

Rain threatened in the final stint but, despite increasingly dark skies, never eventuated, with the lack of Safety Cars creating some big gaps by the finish – fourth-placed Kelly completed the distance 25s behind Coulthard.

The next round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown on June 15-17, with the sole New Zealand stop at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint on 2-4 November with tickets now on sale at www.ticketek.co.nz

https://nzmotorracing.co.nz