Auckland SuperSprint - Sunday, November 4 – Qualifying, Shootout & Race
Fabian Coulthard - No. 12 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Qualifying – 6th (Fastest Lap: 1m02.8428s)
Top 10 Shootout – 6th (Fastest Lap: 1m02.7454s)
Race 29 – 7th (Fastest Lap: 1m04.0385s)
Scott McLaughlin - No. 17 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Qualifying – 2nd (Fastest Lap: 1m02.6706s)
Top 10 Shootout – 2nd (Fastest Lap: 1m02.4877s)
Race 29 – 1st (Fastest Lap: 1m03.5454s)
RECAP: A stellar team effort brought Fabian Coulthard's damaged No.12 Shell V-Power Ford back to life overnight, following his huge crash in yesterday's race in Pukekohe. He repaid the team in kind, qualifying for the Top 10 Shootout, before booking himself the sixth grid position for this afternoon's 200km, 70-lap affair.
Scott McLaughlin also had a great run in qualifying, taking the second position in the shootout, to start alongside 2017 Champion Jamie Whincup. Both drivers got solid starts, with McLaughlin maintaining his second position and Coulthard getting by Chaz Mostert to take fifth place.
McLaughlin was able to build a gap to Van Gisbergen behind him over the opening laps, before Whincup pitted from the lead on lap six. McLaughlin assumed the race lead as a result, 2.2s in front of Van Gisbergen.
Coulthard was up to p4 at this stage. The leading gap was up to 2.4s by lap 10, when McLaughlin began to be held up by lapped traffic on lap 11, with Mark Winterbottom slowing him down. The team took the decision to pull him out of the traffic, pitting him from the lead on lap 12. He rejoined in p12, behind Whincup, in front of Lowndes.
Coulthard pitted from third on lap 15, taking fuel and tyres before rejoining in p14. McLaughlin was back to p2 behind Whincup on lap 20, 4.4s behind after the first round of stops. Coulthard was sitting in p9. Coulthard passed Courtney for p8 on lap 24, and was told to push by engineer Mark Fenning, then gaining another position a few laps later.
McLaughlin maintained p2 through lap 30, keeping the gap consistent at around 4s to Whincup in the lead. He then assumed the lead on lap 33 as Whincup pitted, with Coulthard up to p3. McLaughlin took his second stop on lap 38 from the lead, rejoining in p5 in front of Whincup after racing him on the exit. Coulthard took his second service on lap 40 from p2, another clean stop and rejoined in p9 once more.
By lap 45, McLaughlin had built a 1.2s lead over Whincup. Van Gisbergen pitted on lap 47, and dropped back to p5. McLaughlin was now race leader over Whincup by 1.4s. He continued to lead solidly, with a 1.2s gap on lap 58, with Coulthard in p7. The gap came down to 0.5s on lap 64 as Whincup began to apply pressure to McLaughlin, however McLaughlin put in an incredible drive to hold Whincup at bay to take a sensational victory. Coulthard finished 7th – a fantastic result after yesterday's dramas.
McLaughlin leaves New Zealand with a 14 point Championship lead, heading to Newcastle in a few weeks' time.
COULTHARD QUOTE: "I think we had a good car, and it's a shame about yesterday, as I think we could have had two good races this weekend. The guys getting the car back on track for me today was awesome, and I really wanted to repay them for all of their hard work. We made the shootout and ran in the top seven all day. I think we could have probably run a little higher, but we probably were a bit unlucky with strategy. I'm not unhappy with today."
MCLAUGHLIN QUOTE: "What a weekend. I'm so pumped. Today was massive for us. We had to answer them after yesterday's race, and we did that today. It was a genuine battle between Jamie and I, immense pressure. To win in front of my home crowd is special. I haven't won here since 2013, and to take the Jason Richard Trophy is the icing on the cake. Having JR's parents on the podium was great too. What a fantastic day. I can't wait for Newcastle."