A late-race tangle between championship contenders Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergan has allowed Fabian Coulthard to take victory in Race 17 of the Supercars Australia championship at Sydney Motorsport Park.
At the race start, Mark Winterbottom took the lead ahead of Shane van Gisbergan and Scott McLaughlin, who dropped from pole to third. However, an early pit stop on lap 10 saw McLaughlin take back the lead ahead of van Gisbergan, who pitted one lap later. Winterbottom, Jamie Whincup, Coulthard and Chaz Mostert waited until lap 16.
A right-rear tyre failure on Todd Kelly’s Nissan left massive amounts of debris on the track, triggering the Safety Car. It was on the restart that van Gisbergan got the better of McLaughlin into turn 1. His lead was short-lived as McLaughlin bumped him into a spin at turn 2, sending the Red Bull driver spinning to the back of the field.
The restart was contentious and will be the subject of a post-race investigation. McLaughlin slowed to back up the back after the Safety Car entered the pits. Van Gisbergan, seeing this as an opportunity, pulled alongside McLaughlin to overtake, not doing so until the control line. The two cars made minor side-to-side contact as they ran down the front straight.
With van Gisbergan out of contention, McLaughlin carried on. On a newer set of tyres, McLaughlin’s team-mate Fabian Coulthard got past to take the lead, and eventually, the victory.
David Reynolds and Jamie Whincup, following McLaughlin and van Gisbergan at the restart, were caught up in the collision and both cars suffered damage. Chaz Mostert was able to easily overtake both drivers to finish third having started the race seventh. Reynolds slipped to eighth, but Whincup was able to bring the car home in third.
Although he did cross the line second, McLaughlin was handed a 15-second time penalty for the collision with van Gisbergan, sending him down to 10th place and elevating Mostert into second and Whincup to the podium.
Mark Winterbottom came home behind Whincup as Scott Pye scored HSV Racing’s first top five result since Adelaide. Michael Caruso, Craig Lowndes, Reynolds, Garth Tander and McLaughlin rounded out the top ten.
The result means that McLaughlin’s lead in the championship over Whincup has shrunk from 129 to 78 points.