Scott McLaughlin has won yet another race from pole position for his Garry Rogers Motorsport squad in Race 7 of the Australian V8 Supercars Championship. McLaughlin won by over a second over Bottle-O Racing’s Mark Winterbottom. Scott Pye of Dick Johnson Racing Team Penske got his Pirtek Falcon home in third after early dramas.
McLaughlin converted easily off the start, pushing Red Bull Racing’s Jamie Whincup hard into the first corner, with the young Kiwi taking the lead after hard racing with the 6-time champ. The two held position for most of the race until a late race safety car on lap 35.
Cam Water’s Monster Energy Ford Falcon blew a right front tire on the front straight on lap 35, with the resulting debris forcing a safety car to clean up the track, the second Prodrive Falcon to suffer tire issues in the weekend. During the safety car period, Jason Bright’s #8 BOC Commodore stopped with power steering and alternator issues and needed to be towed off.
After the resulting restart on lap 39, the race exploded. Whincup fought to pass McLaughlin, but an excursion off-line in the final corner and a quick surf through the grass left him vulnerable to Winterbottom, who shot past from fourth to second, and Pye who took third.
The late race push and shove resulted with tire damage on James Moffat’s GRM Volvo, despite a strong showing early on in the race in the top five. Tim Slade also fell off the road despite running strongly in the top ten.
DJR Team Penske had a mixed day, with Fabian Coulthard’s car misfiring on the warmup lap, putting him out of contention, squandering a fourth place grid spot. Though Pye’s car seemed to have similar issues, the drama was limited to radio and communication issues.
Following Pye, Whincup settled for fourth ahead of his Triple Eight teammate Craig Lowndes. Michael Caruso fought tenaciously for sixth ahead of James Courtney, and Chaz Mostert fought for eighth after being spun by Garth Tander and Will Davison early in the race. Davison took ninth, ahead of Shane van Gisbergen who pitted during the late race safety car for fresh tires, scything through the field until the finish.
The Mostert incident is to be investigated post-race, with contact between Mostert and Moffat also to be looked at.
Whincup leaves the weekend in the lead of the championship, ahead of McLaughlin, Winterbottom, Lowndes and Davison. A 36 point difference spreads the top five championship contenders, with no clear dominating force over this year’s championship