The 27th race of the 2018 Supercars Championship and the second leg of the Gold Coast 600 has been officially abandoned after a torrential rainstorm hit the Surfer’s Paradise street circuit.
The race was brought to a halt after 37 of the scheduled 102 laps because of a storm cell hovering directly over the circuit which led to safety concerns for pit crews and Supercars officials.
With a time certain finish of 4:48pm local time, Race Control restarted the race behind the safety car in an attempt to reach the 50% race distance in order for points to be awarded.
However, only six more laps could be completed before the race was suspended again and officially abandoned at 4:25pm.
With no points being awarded, Team Penske DJR’s Scott McLaughlin still leads the championship by 14 points from Shane van Gisbergan. van Gisbergan’s Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Jamie Whincup remains third, a further 419 points behind.
It also means Bathurst 1000 winners Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards are the Enduro Cup champions.
Erebus Racing’s Anton de Pasquale, partnered with Will Brown, was leading the race when it was abandoned. de Pasquale was one of the few primary drivers to start the race and moved to the front when others pitted to make driver changes on Lap 34.
Earlier in the race, de Pasquale’s team-mate Luke Youldan got away well from pole position ahead of James Moffat, Steven Richards and Earl Bamber. His lead lasted just 13 laps however as Moffat executed a pass for the lead at Turn 4.
Youldan lost another position as dual-24 Hours of Le Mans winner Bamber first made his way past Triple Eight team-mate Richards and then Youldan to take second as the rain began to arrive.
Contact with the wall allowed both Walkinshaw Andretti United cars of Jack Perkins and Warren Luff to move ahead of Richards on Lap 24 before the Triple Eight driver put Luff into a spin a few laps later. Luff fell to 12th while Richards had to pit to repair steering damage.
Paul Dumbrell, partnered with Jamie Whincup, buried the #1 Triple Eight entry into the Turn 13 wall on lap 30 and was out of the race. He was joined in the fence by Tickford Racing’s David Russell and Dean Canto, Nissan Motorsport’s Alex Rullo and Brad Jones Racing’s Ash Walsh and Macauley Jones, all of whom managed to escape serious damage.
The safety car was deployed for Dumbrell’s accident, with many teams seizing the opportunity to make driver changes, but heavy rain saw the race red-flagged after 37 laps and eventually abandoned.
The next race of the 2018 Supercars Championship is the Auckland SuperSprint which will take place on November 2–4.
2:25pm – Dark clouds begin surrounding the Surfer’s Paradise street circuit.
Start – #9 Erebus Racing (Reynolds/Youldan) gets away well from #55 Supercheap Auto Racing (Mostert/Moffat), #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering (Lowndes/S. Richards) and #97 Triple Eight Race Engineering (van Gisbergan/Bamber).
Lap 2 – #34 Garry Rogers Motorsport (Golding/Muscat) goes straight on at Turn 11.
Lap 10 – #21 Tim Blanchard Racing (Blanchard/D. Wood) receive a 5-second time penalty for shortcutting the Turn 1-2-3 chicane on the opening lap.
Lap 11 – Earl Bamber gets past Steven Richards for third into Turn 1.
Lap 12 – The sky darkens even more here at Surfer’s Paradise. Who will be the first to pit for wet tyres?
Lap 13 – James Moffat takes the race lead from Luke Youldan at the Turn 4 hairpin.
Lap 19 – Bamber has an attempt to pass Youldan at the Turn 4 hairpin. He is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, #19 Tekno Autosports (Le Brocq/Webb) is wheeled back into the garage after contact with the wall.
Lap 22 – Bamber gets up the inside of Youldan at the exit of the final corner. They run side-by-side down the main straight and Bamber gets by at the Turn 1-2-3 chicane.
Lap 24 – Steven Richards collides with the wall at the Turn 1-2-3 chicane. #25 Walkinshaw Andretti United (Courtney/Perkins) seizes the opportunity and goes past Richards at Turn 4. #2 Walkinshaw Andretti United (Pye/Luff) also gets passed Richards for fifth.
Lap 26 – We are at ¼ distance of this race. Moffat leads from Bamber, Youldan, Perkins, Luff, Richards, Dumbrell, Premat, D’Alberto and Walsh.
Lap 28 – Richards tips Luff into a spin at Turn 4. #17 Team Penske DJR (McLaughlin/Premat) and #12 Team Penske DJR (Coulthard/D’Alberto) go past both of them. Richards carries on, possibly with steering damage. Luff falls down to 12th
Lap 29 – Richards pits. He rejoins 15th.
Lap 30 – Moffat pits from the race lead. Paul Dumbrell, #6 Tickford Racing (Winters/D.Russell), #5 Tickford Racing (Winterbottom/Canto), #78 Nissan Motorsport (de Silvestro/Rullo) and #14 Brad Jones Racing (Slade/Walsh) all end up in the wall at Turn 13.
Lap 31 – Chaos and confusion at the Gold Coast! D’Alberto pits. He rejoins 17th. Earl Bamber now leads from Jack Perkins and Alexandre Premat. All cars at Turn 13 rescue themselves and head for the pits except for Dumbrell. His Triple Eight Race Engineering car is buried at Turn 13 with substantial damage to the rear.
Lap 32 – Safety car deployed! With Dumbrell in the fence, this is huge for Whincup’s championship hopes!
Lap 35 – 90% of the field comes into the pits for driver changes. Mark Winterbottom makes contact with Scott Pye as he exits the pits. He will probably receive a penalty for an unsafe release. Craig Lowndes is also under investigation for the same infraction. #99 Erebus Racing (de Pasquale/Brown), the only regular series driver to have started the race, stays out and takes the lead of the race.
Lap 37 – Red flag! Race 27 has been suspended.
The race order is: de Pasquale, Jacobson, A. Davison, A. Russell, Muscat, Fiore, Courtney, Mostert, McLaughlin, Reynolds, van Gisbergan, Lowndes, Tander, Holdsworth, Stanaway, Blanchard, Rullo, Winterbottom, Pye and Slade.
3:29pm – “It’s really disappointing,” says Paul Dumbrell. “Obviously misjudged it and got it all wrong.”
3:37pm – “This is pretty next level,” says championship leader Scott McLaughlin.
3:39pm – “It’s heavy rain,” says Driving Standards director and former Supercars driver Craig Baird. “At this point it’s too wet. Hopefully, within 15 minutes we’ll go racing, but there’s hail to come after it.”
3:41pm – The drivers are out of their cars as the officials inspect the conditions of the circuit.
3:45pm – There is a lot of standing water on the track at the moment. This is what has officials concerned.
3:54pm – 5 minute signal. The race will recommence at 3:59pm local time.
3:57pm – 2 minute signal.
Lap 38 – Safety car leads the field out onto the track. Anton de Pasquale leads from Garry Jacobson, Alex Davison, Aaren Russell and Richard Muscat. Required minimum driving distance rule has been waived.
Lap 39 – Garry Jacobson pits from second. Rick Kelly jumps onboard the #15 Nissan Motorsport and rejoins 19th. The race has to reach half-distance (51 laps) to be classified. The minimum driving distance has been waived however, both drivers must have driven the car.
Lap 41 – Macauley Jones pits. Nick Percat climbs onboard the #8 Brad Jones Racing entry.
Lap 42 – Richards Muscat pits. James Golding jumps into the #34 Garry Rogers Motorsport entry.
Lap 43 – Alex Rullo pits. Simona de Silvestro jumps onboard the #78 Nissan Motorsport car. Red flag!! The race has been suspended for the second time!
4:13pm – If the cars are unable to restart and reach 51 laps, the race will be voided. Scott McLaughlin currently leads the championship by 14 points from Shane van Gisbergan with Jamie Whincup a further 419 points.
4:19pm – “Safety comes first,” says Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane.
4:21pm – “If we restart this race right now, we’ll have 25 cars in the fence before Turn 1,” says Garth Tander.
4:27pm – The race will not be restarted. The race has been officially abandoned.
4:28pm – Craig Lowndes and his team-mate Steven Richards take out the 2018 Enduro Cup courtesy of a third place finish at the Sandown 500, victory at the Bathurst 1000 and second place in yesterday’s 300km race.