TOP 5 FINISH IN NEW ZEALANDBen Nightingale
AUCKLAND SUPERSPRINT – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 – PRACTICE, QUALIFYING & RACE
Fabian Coulthard – No. 12 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Practice 3 – 9th (Fastest Lap: 1m02.2050s)
Qualifying – 5th (Fastest Lap: 1m01.8018s)
Race 23 – 7th (Fastest Lap: 1m02.7924s)
Scott McLaughlin – No. 17 Shell V-Power Racing Ford
Practice 3 – 4th (Fastest Lap: 1m02.0127s)
Qualifying – 6th (Fastest Lap: 1m01.8461s)
Race 23 – 4th (Fastest Lap: 1m03.0751s)
RECAP: It was a solid day for the Shell V-Power Racing Team at Pukekohe Park Raceway today, with both cars in the Top 10 all day long.
Fabian Coulthard and Scott McLaughlin qualified side-by-side on the third row of the grid for the 200km Race 23, maintaining those positions off the start and across the opening period of the race.
Coulthard took to the pits on lap eight, on what should have been the fastest strategy. He took a short stop for fuel and tyres, re-joining in 22nd position. A safety car fell on lap 14 when Mark Winterbottom’s Holden stopped at Turn 8 which saw the majority of the field take to pitlane.
McLaughlin pitted and took on a large fuel load and fresh tyres, while Coulthard stayed on track to take the lead under the yellow flag conditions. Coulthard led the race from the restart on lap 18, until lap 24 when he slipped on oil at Turn 4 and relinquished the race lead to Jamie Whincup.
Final stops for Coulthard and McLaughlin occurred two laps apart, with the pair slotting into an effective fifth and sixth places for the run to the flag.
Coulthard began to struggle with a slow leak in his left front tyre, so had to be cautious and eventually a position to Lee Holdsworth. They crossed the finish line with McLaughlin sixth and Coulthard eighth, however McLaughlin gained two positions when both Jamie Whincup and Will Davison were penalised for in-race incidents, with Coulthard gaining one due to the Davison penalty.
McLaughlin continues to lead the Championship by 577 points over race winner Shane Van Gisbergen, with Coulthard in third 24 points further back. Shell V-Power Racing Team continues to lead the Teams’ points, with a 786-point buffer over Triple Eight.
COULTHARD QUOTE: “That safety car really didn’t help us, so to salvage seventh isn’t too bad. That didn’t really go to plan. We pitted early to try to get some clean air and make up some track position, but the safety car meant we had to claw back around 15-seconds of fuel. The last stint my left front tyre was going down, so we had to drop off at the end there. I haven’t had much luck on Saturdays at Pukekohe in recent years, so I’m just happy to finish! Overall pace isn’t bad at all, so I think we’ll be able to get back up there tomorrow.”
MCLAUGHLIN QUOTE: “Coming from sixth was always going to be tough, and the changes to the Holdens have clearly given them something. We made some gains in the race, and I have to be happy with the result overall as it’s given us some good direction for tomorrow. The safety car probably didn’t fall nicely for us, but overall a reasonably smooth race. Finishing in the top five when we aren’t at our best is a strong result. We’ll aim to get back up the front tomorrow.”