SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland — Scott McLaughlin might have run out of fuel on his celebration lap and had to push it in, but the Shell V-Power Racing driver gave it his all and held on to win Sunday’s race at the Gold Coast 600 from the might of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team of Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen.
“Ludo [Lacroix, McLaughlin’s engineer] told me to save fuel on the in-lap,” McLaughlin said. “I was like ‘Aww, I can’t do a big burnout,’ but I had a crack and ran out of fuel anyway. I don’t mind pushing my car if it’s pushing it into victory lane and thanks to everyone at Shell V-Power Racing.”
“This guy right here, Alex Premat, drove an unbelievable job in the first stint, he set us up.”
Matty Campbell bogged down a bit at the start, allowing Paul Dumbrell to take the lead. Jack Perkins and Andre Heimgartner short-cut the first chicane. Dumbrell had Campbell right on his bumper, but opened up half a car-length on Campbell down the straight at the end of lap one.
James Golding got spun by Taz Douglas at Turn four on lap two, then Andre Heimgartner got spun into the barriers by Dean Fiore, destroying the Freightliner Commodore’s rear end and sending it to the pits with massive damage, while Fiore got a penalty for the contact. Douglas also went to the garage with what looked to be terminal damage.
Alexandre Premat got the #17 Shell V-Power Ford up to 10th, while teammate Tony d’Alberto climbed from 22nd to 19th. The Shell V-Power team were on the back foot after a poor qualifying, and the midpack racing on the tight streets of the Gold Coast could harm either McLaughlin or Fabian Coulthard’s championship hopes.
Luke Youlden slammed into the wall exiting the second chicane, damaging the right side of the Penrite Commodore on lap 14. Youlden’s day was effectively done. Todd Hazelwood had to pit the CoolDrive Commodore after his front guard was hanging off the car.
Back up front, Dumbrell led from Campbell by 1.1 seconds, with Steven Richards in the TeamVortex Commodore two seconds behind Dumbrell in third. Richie Stanaway was fourth, 6.77 behind Dumbrell, having passed Perkins by diving down the inside of him at Turn four.
David Russell got clipped by Richard Muscat, causing the right-front tire to be rubbed by the fender and damaging the radiator too. Alex Davison was the big loser in the incident too, as Muscat pinballed into him after contact with the Nissan, damaging Davison’s car severely. The stewards took a look at the incident and decided to deal with it post-race due to needing more data.
Premat was up to sixth by lap 24, and was closing in on Dean Canto’s Bottle-O Falcon by lap 25, but was holding steadily in sixth. Tony d’Alberto was up to 13th, so the Shell V-Power duo was salvaging a rough Sunday.
Regular drivers were preparing to get into their cars at the first stop. Stanaway was catching Richards by lap 33, and was up to the TeamVortex Commodore’s bumper. Stanaway dived down the inside of Richards at Turn four, damaging the right-hand side of the Monster Energy Falcon and giving it front suspension and steering damage.
Dumbrell was the first in to hand over to Jamie Whincup, as did Richards for Craig Lowndes. Other top cars in were Canto for Mark Winterbottom, stacking up ahead of Stanaway to hand over to Cam Waters, who would wait as a steering arm was replaced. Campbell came in the next lap to hand over to Shane van Gisbergen. Whincup got by him for the effective lead behind Tony d’Alberto, who would pit at the end of lap 36 to hand over to Coulthard.
Coulthard nearly threw it into the Turn 11 wall, handing eighth to Chaz Mostert. Alex Rullo took to the Turn nine escape road with an undisclosed issue
Van Gisbergen was 4.5 seconds down on Whincup, and complained of something being “bent.” Van Gisbergen was holding up Lowndes slightly, and Triple Eight asked him to move over, but the Kiwi picked up the pace again. McLaughlin closed in on Lowndes and Van Gisbergen, and was less than three seconds behind the Triple Eight duo.
McLaughlin pitted on lap 60 in order to undercut the Red Bull Holdens. He came out in 16th. Mostert pitted on the next lap, and then Van Gisbergen and Lowndes pitted the lap after, and though Van Gisbergen almost had McLaughlin out of the pits, the Shell V-Power Ford driver grabbed the undercut.
McLaughlin got by Whincup on lap 65. McLaughlin straight-lined the first chicane, then Whincup straight-lined the second. Van Gisbergen was given his last warning for kerb hopping.
With three-quarters gone, McLaughlin led Whincup by 1.33 seconds and Van Gisbergen by three seconds. Van Gisbergen closed within 1.5 seconds of McLaughlin on lap 82 as the three-car battle continued. Chris Pither held up the leaders slightly, with Van Gisbergen being the most affected, complaining that his race was ‘ruined.’
Van Gisbergen’s race got tougher as he got a bad sportsmanship flag for kerb hopping. McLaughlin was held up by Garth Tander, screaming for a blue flag, and getting one shortly after.
The gap to Whincup was 1.97 seconds, and with 10 laps to go, McLaughlin was driving a consistent race, though got a bad sportsmanship flag for kerb hopping on lap 94. He nearly stuffed it in the fence on lap 95 at Turn four, but saved it in time.
Mostert and co-driver Steve Owen won the Pirtek Enduro Cup by finishing seventh.
Two laps to go, and McLaughlin had 1.4 seconds over Whincup. The final lap came and went quickly, and McLaughlin pumped the air in celebration, then did a burnout. After getting the car into the pits, the masses swarmed McLaughlin, celebrating his win.
1. Scott McLaughlin/Alexandre Premat
2. Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell
3. Shane van Gisbergen/Matt Campbell
4. Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards
5. Mark Winterbottom/Dean Canto
6. James Courtney/Jack Perkins
7. Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen
8. Lee Holdsworth/Karl Reindler
9. Fabian Coulthard/Tony D’Alberto
10. Nick Percat/Macauley Jones