Nick Percat has cruised to his second Supercars victory of the season, three weeks to the day after the Brad Jones Racing pilot claimed a memorable victory at the same Sydney Motorsport Park circuit.
Percat only gained control of the field with ten laps in hand as Shane Van Gisbergen, who had led for all the race until his pitstop, run a more conservative tyre strategy to eventually finish in eighth.
Fabian Coulthard held onto a welcomed podium finish in a season the Kiwi would much rather put behind him. The #12 DJR Penske Mustang would cross the line 8.8sec adrift of Percat as he led home his teammate Scott McLaughlin to round off the podium.
McLaughlin out-dragged an ailing James Courtney on the final straight to steal a podium finish, having overtaken Rick Kelly for fourth only a handful of corners earlier.
Pole-sitter McLaughlin nailed the initial jump off the line but Van Gisbergen’s gripper soft tyres allowed the Red Bull pilot to fight back around the outside of Turn 1 before a lunge into the hairpin saw the #97 steal the lead.
McLaughlin had opted to start the race on the hard tyre in a similar strategy to yesterday’s race while third-place starter Nick Percat took second from the Kiwi two laps later at the same corner.
Percat was vividly quicker than Van Gisbergen and the Brad Jones Racing-prepared Commodore made several half-hearted lunges on the leader, narrowly avoiding a collision as the Red Bull racer fended off the stern challenge.
Predictably, McLaughlin fell behind those running the soft tyre and by lap five had relinquished spots to Coulthard, Kelly and Courtney.
Both Courtney and Coulthard would make their sole pitstop on lap 12 while Jamie Whincup, who had taken the pain of qualifying on the hard tyres and start 19th, also made his stop one lap earlier to don a fresh set of boots.
In the best position to claim a second victory from Sydney Motorsport Park, Percat would cycle pitlane on lap 13 and take on four new soft tyres.
McLaughlin was another driver to take on four soft tyres but emerged from his pitstop 13-seconds adrift of Percat who was the lead car to have made his stop and began to eat into Van Gisbergen’s lead.
The Kiwi extended his opening stint all the way until lap 22 of 32 where he donned a set of used hard tyres, conceding the lead and the eventual race victory to Nick Percat.
Mclaughlin pushed hard on his set of softs to hunt down Rick Kelly for fourth though it would take until the final lap before the Kiwi could muscle his way past the resilient defence of Kelly at Turn 8.
Courtney, who had held third spot for most of the final stages of the race, was nursing worn tyres which allowed a shrewd McLaughlin to position himself perfectly out of the final corner to pull alongside and eventually ahead of his rival in a thrilling finish.
Percat will line up sixth in this afternoon’s final race but may have played his joker card early as it is unsure whether the BJR driver will have another set of softs to run or if he will be forced into a double-hard strategy.
Race 12 of the Supercars Championship gets underway from 4.50 pm NZT.
|8||Shane van Gisbergen||50:50.1518|
|13||Anton De Pasquale||51:20.0252|
|16||Jack Le Brocq||51:30.0458|