There may not have been any points up for grabs, but this weekend’s MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge was an ideal dress rehearsal for several teams ahead of next month’s ITM400 Auckland.
The weekend though most definitely belonged to Brad Jones Racing and in particular, Fabian Coulthard, who bagged the non-championship round win.
Coulthard led the team to a one-two in qualifying and the overall standings, winning three of the four Australian Grand Prix support category races, although his third was as a result of the eight cars excluded from Saturday’s race results, all of whom fell foul of technical infringements.
Teammate Jason Bright posted a second, two thirds, and an eleventh placing across the four 12-lap races, while Pepsi Max Crew FPR’s Will Davison fared the best of the factory Fords, finishing third, fourth, fifth, and an eighth to claim the final podium spot for the event.
Afterwards, Coulthard dedicated his maiden pole, victory and first round win to Jason Richards who shone here two years ago in a one-off return to V8 Supercars while battling cancer, scoring a podium in his final V8 Supercar race.
Another driver making an impressive start to the season is Shane van Gisbergen. The Tekno Autosports driver gave the team its first win in Adelaide and was the star of the show here in a wet and wild race two at the Albert Park circuit.
Starting in ninth, the Kiwi sailed through the pack and into the lead by the start of the second lap. And despite slewing through the gravel just two corners later, he quickly recovered the lead and pulled out an astonishing gap of over 12s ahead of second placed Lowndes. Van Gisbergen was also joined on the podium by team-mate Jonathon Webb, before all three together with Jamie Whincup, Dean Fiore, Scott Pye, Todd Kelly and Michael Caruso were disqualified.
Besides the exclusions, James Moffat was handed an Aus $5000 fine following a post-race altercation with Scott Pye. The Nissan Motorsport driver was upset after the pair clashed several times during the third race and confronted Pye in the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport garage. Nevertheless, it was an encouraging weekend for Moffat who finished the best of the Nissans in seventh overall.
Perhaps the most impressive win of the weekend went to rookie Scott McLaughlin. The teenager claimed his first V8 Supercars victory in the final race for Garry Rogers Motorsport in only his sixth race as full-time series driver. Fighting his way through from seventh, he held off veteran Craig Lowndes and Coulthard to complete a clean sweep of wins for the Series’ New Zealand drivers.
With no wins for Red Bull Racing Australia or Ford Performance Racing, the smaller teams can certainly take a lot of encouragement into the next V8 Supercars Championship round in Tasmania in two weeks’ time.
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