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Winton Supercars: McLaughlin wins after shortcut controversy

Winton Supercars: McLaughlin wins after shortcut controversy
May 25, 2019, 6:59 AM

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

McLaughlin finished 1.3s clear of Tickford driver Chaz Mostert, the win tinged in controversy after the points leader was bumped off the track by teammate Fabian Coulthard on Lap 1, 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 saw 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 teammate 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 2, with 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 5. He then set after Reynolds, closing the gap to a couple of tenths before opting to pit for clean air on Lap 12.

Reynolds made his stop on Lap 20, the five additional stationary seconds dropping him back to fourth on the road, behind new leader McLaughlin, Mostert and an undercutting Jamie Whincup, who made his stop on Lap 6.

The Erebus driver 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, 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 per cent there, I thought it was my corner, I was in front far enough,” said McLaughlin.

“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 okay.”

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

Shane van Gisbergen ran his now-standard overcut strategy to come home fifth, passing teammate 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, meanwhile, finished way down in 16th, having been slapped with a 15s penalty for the Lap 1 contact on his teammate.

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

Race results:

Cla Driver Car Gap
1 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT  
2 Australia Chaz Mostert Ford Mustang GT 1.3013
3 Australia David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 8.9492
4 Australia James Courtney Holden Commodore ZB 9.5299
5 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 17.2115
6 Australia Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 18.4244
7 Australia Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 21.6634
8 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner Nissan Altima 31.7107
9 Australia Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 34.3808
10 Australia Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 34.6718
11 Australia Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 35.5517
12 Australia Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 35.9211
13 Australia Tim Slade Holden Commodore ZB 36.1275
14 Australia Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 37.1774
15 New Zealand Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 37.5758
16 Australia Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 41.6356
17 Australia Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 42.0567
18 Australia James Golding Holden Commodore ZB 52.6790
19 Australia Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 53.1275
20 Australia Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 53.5602
21 Australia Jack Le Brocq Holden Commodore ZB 55.6771
22 Australia Garry Jacobson Nissan Altima 56.5198
23 Switzerland Simona de Silvestro Nissan Altima 1'12.6338
24 United States Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 1 Lap
25 New Zealand Richie Stanaway Holden Commodore ZB 1 Lap
Winton Supercars: Mostert snatches pole from Coulthard

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About this article

Series Supercars
Event Winton
Drivers Scott McLaughlin
Teams DJR Team Penske
Author Andrew van Leeuwen