Race 11: The View From The Couch

Race 11: The View From The Couch

Nick Percat did it again at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Using the same tactics that snared him a welcome win on the first Supercars sprint in Sydney, taking soft-compound Dunlop tyres for both legs of the 32-lap battle, he won the second of three races in the harbour-side city.

Shane van Gisbergen made things a little tough as he led the early laps, but without a set of soft Dunlops for the run to the flat he eventually faded to eighth at the finish.

Fabian Coulthard was another of the drivers to go all-in with a soft-soft strategy and made it home in a comfortable second, but his run was overshadowed by the rousing result for his team mate Scott McLaughlin.

The championship leader started on hard tyres and faded early, but kept out of trouble and was able to storm back up the order after changing to soft tyres.

McLaughlin proved he is a racer’s racer on the final lap, as he elbowed Rick Kelly aside and then out-sprinted James Courtney in a drag-race to the finish.

Courtney probably deserved a podium in only his second weekend as a Ford Mustang driver, but admitted he ran out of rubber in the dying laps.

“I could see those guys coming. I was blocking them pretty hard. I did everything I could,” says Courtney.

Percat enjoyed his race and was also happy to be celebrating with team boss Brad Jones, who joined his team for the first time at SMP 2.0.

“It was mega. Good fun,” Percat says.

Coulthard admitted he gambled on the fastest strategy but was still happy to get a welcome podium.

“It’s tough with these tyres. We played our cards there. We had to maximise that,” he says.

After his storming finish, McLaughlin was one giant smile.

“That was awesome. Good racing. It was good fun,” he says.

“I didn’t think I’d get third but, bloody good, I’ll take it.”

The final Sydney sprint is going to mean tyre compromises for every driver in the field, with no-one able to place much faith in their remaining soft tyres.

“Who knows what will happen in the last one?,” says Coulthard, speaking for everyone.

  • The front row is a predictable line-up of McLaughlin and van Gisbergen, who both qualify on soft tyres but arrive on the grid with the same first-stint choices as they used on Saturday night. So McLaughlin playing the long game by starting on hards and SvG intents to sprint from the start on softs.
  • Jamie Whincup was the best of the hard-tyre qualifiers, but only a miserable 20th on the grid, proving that even a used soft-compound Dunlop can work on a one-lap dash.
  • James Courtney looks racy for the first time in the Ford Mustang, moving up 10 spots in the early laps. He was smiling as he nipped past McLaughlin with the Boost Mustang, even if the places would later be reversed.
  • First into the pits is David Reynolds, who is uncharacteristically quiet as he goes with a hard-hard strategy.
  • Jack Smith is a surprising tenth for Brad Jones Racing. Normally a tail-ender, BJR performs similar magic to the effort that paid off for Macauley Jones on Saturday night.
  • The second of three races is a slow burn, not nearly as hot-and-hectic as the battle under lights on Saturday as drivers are mis-matched on tyres and some attempt to save something for the final start.
  • McLaughlin is headed for the ‘round’ win with a solid lead in overall points for the meeting, as both of his Red Bull Holden Racing Team rivals have suffered some form of setback.

RACE 11 – 32 laps

1Nick Percat
2Fabian Coulthard
3Scott McLaughlin
4James Courtney
5Chaz Mostert
6Rick Kelly
7Garry Jacobson
8Shane van Gisbergen
9Cam Waters
10Jack Smith