A composed drive saw Chaz Mostert take an impressive win in difficult conditions at Sydney Motorsport Park, while Jason Bright and Shane van Gisbergen came together for a controversial clash on the penultimate lap.
Mostert hit the third lap of the race, but he didn’t do it on the track. A Lap 1 Safety Car saw almost the entire field roll straight through pit-lane, Mostert going from third to first as everything shook out.
Once in front Mostert was able to lead the race comfortably, before the race was thrown into chaos again on Lap 24 when it started to rain. For a second time the entire field hit pit-lane at the same time, this time for wet tyres, and again it was Mostert who came out in front.
This time there were no more nasty surprises, with the circuit just staying wet enough for the treaded Dunlops to make it to the finish, giving Mostert a fifth win of the year.
Making the win even sweeter for the young gun is that points leader and Prodrive team-mate Mark Winterbottom had a shocker, finishing just 15th and helping Mostert move to within 174 points.
“Coming in on that in-lap with the rain on slicks was giving me bad memories; last year on the roll-out lap we speared off,” Mostert said.
“It was good get back out there and maintain the lead. It all came down to strategy, obviously the rain played a big part, but the car was pretty good in the rain.”
Second place came down to a battle between Brad Jones Racing team-mates Jason Bright and Fabian Coulthard. Bright went from the mid-field to the pointy end during the transition to wet tyres, the BJR team having cleverly put hm on the soft tyre in the middle stint in anticipation for the rain.
It gave Bright track position, and once on wets he took little time making his way into P2 behind Mostert. Unfortunately for him it didn’t last; first Coulthard made his way through, comfortably pulling away to take second.
Bright still ended up on the podium, but it came with some late drama. On the penultimate lap when a hard-charged Shane van Gisbergen, who had come from nowhere in the rain to find himself running right at the front, made contact with Bright as they squabbled over third, sending them both off the track.
They both got going, with Bright taking a short cut to make sure he ended up back in third, controversially demoting van Gisbergen to fourth.
“I had to double stack that race, so I didn’t expect to be on the podium after being last after the first Safety Car there,” Bright said.
“We had good pace on the softs, awesome pace on the wets. I’m really happy for the team, we’ve been a bit dry for podiums this year.”
Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, conceded that it was his mistake that sent Bright off the road.
“That was my mistake, I went up the inside. It was a bit too wet still, I just locked a brake and understeered in to him,” said the Kiwi.
“I’m pretty gutted, I really wanted that podium for the guys. [Bright] got on track, I don’t know how they’re going to address that, but he deserved the podium, I took him out there by accident.”
Pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin came home fifth, David Reynolds sixth, and Nissan’s Michael Caruso in seventh.
Winterbottom, meanwhile, lost a lot of points to Mostert by finishing back in 15th. Starting mid-pack, the championship leader couldn’t avoid some midfield carnage, contact with both Craig Lowndes and PRA team-mate Andre Heimgartner costing him a chance of a Top 10 finish.
“I dunno, on the wets my thing was actually really good,” he explained.
“I made about six spots up on the restart. I think it was maybe Lowndes who nailed me into [Turn] 2 and spat me off the track. When he did that I lost all my spots, and then Andre came in out of control and smacked the front end, and the steering wheel went down.
“I feel like I drove a really good race and got no reward.”