Winton Supercars: McLaughlin wins despite team-mate clash, shortcut

Scott McLaughlin recovered from a first-lap tangle with team-mate Fabian Coulthard and a controversial shortcut to win the opening Supercars race at Winton

Winton Supercars: McLaughlin wins despite team-mate clash, shortcut

McLaughlin finished 1.3 seconds clear of Tickford driver Chaz Mostert to take a win tinged with controversy after the points leader was bumped off the track by DJR Penske Ford team-mate Coulthard on lap one and then rejoined in the lead pack after missing three corners of the circuit.

It all happened as part of a frantic start to the race, which featured three leaders inside the first two laps.

Initially it was Coulthard who led the way, before getting surprised by a fast-starting James Courtney at Turn 4 on the first lap.

Getting run wide by Courtney pushed Coulthard down to fourth, right on the bumper of team-mate McLaughlin.

He was then a little too close on the way into Turn 5, tagging the back of McLaughlin's Mustang as both Penske cars ended off the road.

While Coulthard rejoined near the back of the field, McLaughlin opted to shortcut the circuit, missing Turns 6 and 7 and coming back on the run to Turn 8 in third position.

There was more drama at Turn 4 on lap two, with David Reynolds dive-bombing Courtney for the lead. He only got the job done thanks to a decent hit on Courtney's right-rear corner, which dropped Courtney back to fourth.

Reynolds took off in the lead, but did so with a five-second penalty for the contact hanging over his head.

McLaughlin quickly turned the heat up on second-placed Chaz Mostert, and passed the Tickford Ford on lap five. He then set after Reynolds, closing the gap to a couple of tenths before opting to pit for clean air on lap 12 of 40.

Reynolds made his stop at half-distance, with the five additional stationary seconds dropping him back to fourth on the road, behind new leader McLaughlin, Mostert and an undercutting Jamie Whincup, who had made his stop on lap six.

Erebus driver Reynolds was able to clear Whincup quite quickly, but was still more than 10s behind McLaughlin - his hopes of victory over.

That meant the battle for the lead was down to McLaughlin vs Mostert, the latter with rubber that was seven laps fresher.

Mostert's challenge for the lead was persistent, but ultimately unsuccessful. As the laps counted down the gap between the two slowly began to grow, with McLaughlin regaining the control he needed to take a 1.3s win.

"It's an awkward one. I didn't know if Fabian was 100% there, I thought it was my corner, I was in front far enough," said McLaughlin of the first lap incident.

"I went off the road and tried to get back and rejoin in the right position, but I was going to go the wrong way, so I was dammed if I did and dammed if I didn't.

"I pushed on and thankfully it was OK."

Reynolds finished third despite that penalty, with Courtney finishing right under his rear wing in fourth.

Shane van Gisbergen ran his now-standard late-stopping strategy to come home fifth, passing Triple Eight Holden team-mate Whincup late in the race.

Nick Percat finished seventh, with Lee Holdsworth eighth on the road but demoted to 16th thanks to a 15s time penalty for spinning Anton De Pasquale during the first stint.

That moved Andre Heimgartner into eighth, followed by Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye.

Coulthard finished way down in 16th, having been slapped with a 15s penalty for the lap one contact on his team-mate.

There's now a 232-point gap between the two Penske Ford drivers in the standings, and McLaughlin has already matched the nine wins he took while securing the 2018 title.

Race one result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Scott McLaughlin DJR Penske Ford 40 54m59.9905s
2 Chaz Mostert Tickford Ford 40 1.3013s
3 David Reynolds Erebus Holden 40 8.9492s
4 James Courtney Walkinshaw Holden 40 9.5298s
5 Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Holden 40 17.2114s
6 Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Holden 40 18.4243s
7 Nick Percat Brad Jones Holden 40 21.6634s
8 Andre Heimgartner Kelly Nissan 40 31.7106s
9 Mark Winterbottom Schwerkolt Holden 40 34.3807s
10 Scott Pye Walkinshaw Holden 40 34.6717s
11 Cameron Waters Tickford Ford 40 35.5517s
12 Will Davison 23Red Racing Ford 40 35.9210s
13 Tim Slade Brad Jones Holden 40 36.1275s
14 Rick Kelly Kelly Nissan 40 37.1773s
15 Fabian Coulthard DJR Penske Ford 40 37.5758s
16 Macauley Jones Blanchard/BJR Holden 40 42.0567s
17 James Golding GRM Holden 40 52.6790s
18 Anton De Pasquale Erebus Holden 40 53.1275s
19 Todd Hazelwood Matt Stone Holden 40 53.5602s
20 Jack Le Brocq Tekno Holden 40 55.6770s
21 Garry Jacobson Kelly Nissan 40 56.5198s
22 Lee Holdsworth Tickford Ford 40 56.6356s
23 Simona de Silvestro Kelly Nissan 40 1m12.6337s
24 Jack Smith Brad Jones Holden 39 1 Lap
25 Richie Stanaway GRM Holden 39 1 Lap


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