Race 25: View From The Couch

Race 25: View From The Couch

Bryce Fullwood said it best after 24 torrid laps at The Bend as the Supercars championship gets down to the business end of the season.

“There was shit flying everywhere in that race.”

The brown stuff was thrown up by championship rivals Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin, who were both pinged with 15-second penalties for body contact, as well as Shane van Gisbergen and many of the other battlers trying to make something from a tough event on soft-compound Dunlop rubber.

“I’m not going to hand it to him on plate,” said Whincup after his first-lap tangle with McLaughlin.

“I don’t agree with it at all,” said McLaughlin after his 15-second penalty for spinning Lee Holdsworth in the final laps.

Their time penalties from Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird, effectively cancelled out, as McLaughlin finished up 15th and Whincup was 19th.

The margin between the two title contenders was 143 points before the race and McLaughlin slightly extended his margin to 151 at the finish.

The surprising winner of Race 25 in the shortened championship was Fabian Coulthard, who celebrated his 200th Round with his first victory of the season at the end of a 41-race dry spell with his Shell V-Power Mustang.

Jack Le Brocq could and should have won, and spent time in the lead with his Mustang, bad made silly mistakes as he tried to remove a badly-crippled van Gisbergen from the lead and could only manage third.

Fullwood, still only 22 and in his rookie season, did very well to race home third for Walkinshaw Andretti United as his team leader, and pole sitter, Chaz Mostert could only limp home in 12th.

“To get a win is awesome. It’s been good,” said Coulthard, who finally did the job expected of McLaughlin’s team mate.

“We can always improve and make it better. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I think we’re good.”

“Live and learn. I’m a bit annoyed at myself. But we’ll take a P2 any day of the week,” said Le Brocq.

“I’m absolute speechless,” says 22-year-old Fullwood, who is a Supercars rookie.

The re-scheduled race at The Bend was always going to be a tough one on soft tyres, as different teams took various approaches to their set-up.

The Red Bull HRT pair were among the worst hit with tyre dramas, particularly when van Gisbergen looked more like a train driver as he tried to defend against a string of quicker cars, while the Tickford Mustangs were clearly easier to drive and quicker for longer.

But everyone will be talking about the contact, firstly between Whincup and McLaughlin as they fought for the lead on the first lap, and then later between McLaughlin and Holdsworth as the championship leader tried to get back to a podium place.

“I think he’s driving in desperation., I won’t know why he would. I gave him room … and he just tagged me,” said Holdsworth.

“The move with Holdsworth for me, was on, so I had a crack. Obviously the Stewards didn’t agree with it. The whole time I was completely in control. The guy on the outside has to give you some space. I was stuck.”

He was less concerned about the bump with Whincup, which came after contact with van Gisbergen at the previous race in Townsville.

“It’s racing. I knew he was going to have a crack. I tried to give him the room to do it,” McLaughlin said.

But it’s typical of the hard edge in Supercars with the biggest race of the season at Bathurst, and the championship decider, coming up fast.

“Hey, we were racing. I’m not going to hand it to him on a plate,” said Whincup, talking as much about the season as the first of three races at The Bend.

Race 25: 24 laps

1Fabian Coulthard
2Jack Le Brocq
3Bryce Fullwood
4Andre Heimgartner
5Cam Waters
6Rick Kelly
7Scott Pye
8Anton De Pasquale
9Shane van Gisbergen
10James Courtney