Friday, Mar 15 08:52pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Ford Freakout: McLaughlin leads Coulthard in Mustang lockout

Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard have scored their first 1–2 of the season with a dominant performance at Albert Park.


Race 3 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 saw the Shell V-Power Racing duo dominate proceeding. They were followed by a trio of fellow Ford Mustang pilots in the behind.


Cameron Waters, Will Davison and Chaz Mostert rounded out the top five in what was a clean sweep for the Mustang.


McLaughlin said he was happy to win, but took time to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack on two mosques in his hometown Christchurch.


“A great start for everyone at Shell V-Power Racing, one-two for the team and Ford Performance, it’s just fantastic and the car was great,” McLaughlin said.


“But this goes out to New Zealand. They're tough times over there. And Christchurch, that’s my home town, so they’re all suffering. All love to you guys.”


For McLaughlin it was about consistency and helping to keep teammate Coulthard in contention.


“I was driving to a lap time and helping Fabs get clear air on Cam [Cameron Waters]. I’m doing the team job up front as well as him behind. I had an awesome start again, my starts are going well and I’ve just got to keep pressing on.


“I’m just trying to stick to the same process. We’re working hard to make sure I’m on the same throttle and getting the same load lights and letting go on the line locker and she hooks up.”


It was a day to forget for Red Bull Holden Racing driver Shane van Gisbergen who suffered a mechanical failure while sitting comfortably in fourth position.


McLaughlin got a brilliant jump from first as the lights went out and led the field into Turn 1 with Coulthard in behind.


The field managed to make their way through the first few corners without incident. McLaughlin’s start meant he held a good lead over Coulthard, but the second placed driver began the narrow the margin.


The main focus of the opening stanza was Chaz Motert who battled from the back of the pack to the top 10. There were some concerns about his car after the pit stop sequence as smoke began to pour from the front of his car. However, he continued on unperturbed.


Strategy was the name of the game as some pitted early, some midway through the race, and some late. Will Davison was one who opted to come in early and try and execute an undercut. He managed to buy some time and make up ground on third placed driver Cameron Waters. However, it was McLaughlin and Coulthard who held station at the front of the field.


Shane van Gisbergen was one of the last to pit on lap 15. He returned to the race behind Davison and only fractionally ahead of Tim Slade. The crisscross at Turn 1 on return to the circuit allowed Slade to get by and demote van Gisbergen to what was effectively sixth on the road.


There were fisticuffs at the penultimate corner between Scott Pye and Nick Percat on lap 18. The pair went side-by-side and made contact, which sent Percat into the grass.


Having displaced Slade, van Gisbergen set about catching and passing Davison. A dive at Turn 15 saw the Kiwi take fourth while Chaz Mostert behind him got by Slade too.


Drama struck late in the race with just three laps to go when van Gisbergen stopped on the run out of Turn 2. A trans-axle issue ground the Red Bull Holden Racing Team ace to a halt and starved him of valuable points.


The biggest charger of the day was Mostert who managed to get up 17 positions from the back of the pack to finished fifth for Tickford Racing.


Ultimately McLaughlin was untouchable. He cruised home to finish ahead of Coulthard and take his third straight win of the season.


Fifth place finisher Mostert managed to make a remarkable recovery after a shocking qualifying. It bodes well for the Tickford Racing pilot who will start the penultimate race of the weekend from pole position.


“I feel like we have a much better race car than we do qualifying,” he said.


“If we can unlock some qualifying speed then we might be someone to beat out there. Credit to Adam [De Borre], through last year we struggled with race pace and now we’ve turned the thing into a bit of a monster in race conditions. I’m pretty shocked to get to fifth to be honest.”


Race 4 of the season gets underway at 2:50pm NZST, which will be followed by Race 5 at 8:30pm. 


Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 Race 3


Pos Driver Laps/Diff
1 Scott McLaughlin  25 laps 
2 Fabian Coulthard  +0.687
3 Cameron Waters  +4.619
4 Will Davison  +9.917
5 Chaz Mostert  +11.558
6 Tim Slade  +15.820
7 James Courtney  +21.760
8 Jamie Whincup  +22.021
9 Lee Holdsworth  +22.450
10 David Reynolds  +23.188
11 Anton De Pasquale  +23.796
12 Mark Winterbottom  +27.770
13 Scott Pye  +29.407
14 Nick Percat  +37.003
15 Andre Heimgartner  +37.759
16 Rick Kelly  +38.020
17 James Golding  +38.964
18 Richie Stanaway  +40.628
19 Simona de Silvestro  +40.886
20 Macauley Jones  +56.277
21 Jack Le Brocq  +56.797
22 Garry Jacobson  +1:10.378
23 Todd Hazelwood  +2 Laps
DNF  Shane van Gisbergen  +4 Laps


Photo: Shell V-Power Racing