Auckland SuperSprint - Saturday, November 3 – Practice, Qualifying & Race
Fabian Coulthard - No. 12 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Practice 3 – 11th (Fastest Lap: 1m10.9458s - wet)
Qualifying – 19th (Fastest Lap: 1m03.4380s)
Race 28 – DNF (Fastest Lap: 1m04.0618s)
Scott McLaughlin - No. 17 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Practice 3 – 15th (Fastest Lap: 1m11.1557s - wet)
Qualifying – 1st (Fastest Lap: 1m02.5708s)
Race 28 – 2nd (Fastest Lap: 1m03.2734s – fastest race lap)
RECAP: Today's weather conditions at Pukekohe made things challenging, with practice held in wet conditions, before a qualifying session and race that saw intermittent rain.
Race 28 saw clean starts for both cars, with Scott McLaughlin maintaining the lead after starting from pole position. McLaughlin's chief championship rival, Shane van Gisbergen pushed extremely hard on lap one in an attempt to take the lead, however McLaughlin held the lead and built a gap.
Fabian Coulthard was up to 16th at the end of lap one and 15th by the end of lap two, after starting 19th. Coulthard had a coming together with Will Davison causing front end damage, however was able to continue with cosmetic damage, but not major issues.
By the end of lap five, McLaughlin had extended his lead over Van Gisbergen to 1.2s. Rain started to fall on lap six, with McLaughlin getting stuck behind the Tickford Falcon of Winterbottom, who pitted on lap one.
Unfortunately for the team, Coulthard was hit in the rear on lap 8, at the high-speed Turn 11 and had a huge crash which damaged both ends of the car. Thankfully, he exited the car safely and was unharmed. The Safety car was then called, so Car 12 could be recovered.
Most cars entered pit lane under caution for tyres and fuel. McLaughlin rejoined in 2nd position behind James Courtney, who short filled at his first stop to gain track position.
We got the restart on lap 15, with Courtney leading and McLaughlin in p2. Just like at the race start, Van Gisbergen pushed very hard to pass Car 17 off the restart, including an attempted bump and run at Turn 10.
Courtney began to hold up McLaughlin on lap 21, allowing Van Gisbergen to close the gap, before making the pass for p2 and the effective lead on lap 22.
McLaughlin reported that the car is good at the beginning of the stint, but it begins to fade away towards the end. He struggled to stay with Courtney and Van Gisbergen from lap 30 onwards.
McLaughlin pitted from p3 on lap 32, rejoining in p21. He was ordered to put in qualifying style laps by engineer Ludo Lacroix, in an attempt to undercut those in front of him.
All other runners stopped with Scott having worked his way back to p2, however Van Gisbergen chose to go long on this stint, finally stopping on lap 45. Scott's efforts early in his final stint meant that he was able to pass Van Gisbergen before he returned to the circuit, taking a four-second lead into the final section of the race.
Using his fresher tyres, SVG closed the gap to two-seconds over time the following 10 laps. It is announced that he is being investigated for wheels spinning during Pitstop, with the investigation referred to post race.
The gap was down to 0.2s by lap 60, before SVG shoved his way past at the hairpin, receiving a 5sec time penalty for a driving infringement against McLaughlin.
Over the final five laps of the race, Scott pushes as hard as he possibly can, but SVG manages to get a 5.5s gap at the flag to take the victory.
The result remains under a cloud, as an investigation into the pit stop infringement was referred to post race. The Championship points gap is now two points, with McLaughlin leading Van Gisbergen.
COULTHARD QUOTE: "It's so frustrating to have a big crash here at Pukekohe for the second year in a row, and at almost the same place. It was a big hit, but thankfully I'm OK. Unfortunately, there's a lot of work ahead for the team tonight to get the car ready and back out on the track for tomorrow's race. I'm really sorry for the guys that they've got to do this again. Hopefully the car will be able to come back for tomorrow, and we can try to put on a show for my home crowd."
MCLAUGHLIN QUOTE: "It was awesome to get pole in front of the home crowd this afternoon, that was a great feeling. Shane and I raced hard, and obviously there was a bit of gamesmanship there. I'm gutted we didn't get the win at the end of the day, but we'll be gracious in defeat, and humble in victory. We'll give it a big crack for all the Ford fans tomorrow. It was shame to see Fabian in the wall again here, and again not his fault. I'm sure the crew will get it sorted, and he'll be back on the grid again tomorrow."