July 7, 2018

Fabian Coulthard - No. 12 Shell V-Power Racing Ford

Qualifying – 9th (Fastest Lap: 1m12.5829s)
Race 17 – 5th (Fastest Lap: 1m13.7660s)
Scott McLaughlin - No. 17 Shell V-Power Racing Ford

Qualifying – 1st (Fastest Lap: 1m12.1239s)
Race 17 – 3rd (Fastest Lap: 1m13.7202s)

Race 17 of the 2018 Supercars Championship was a tense affair around Townsville's Reid Park street circuit. Scott McLaughlin started from the front row after taking his eighth pole of the year earlier in the day, with Fabian Coulthard out of the ninth position. Both cars started strongly, with McLaughlin holding the lead across the opening lap and Coulthard gaining two positions. Triple Eight's Jamie Whincup made a move past McLaughlin on lap two, and then pulled away from McLaughlin and the rest of the pack – a position he would not relinquish for the remainder of the day. McLaughlin held the second position until his first pitstop on lap 21, when he was followed into the lane by Shane van Gisbergen. Unfortunately, the air ‘spike' that operates the air-jack system jammed once the stop was complete, costing a crucial second that allowed Van Gisbergen to pass in pit lane. This pushed McLaughlin into third place, where he came under consistent pressure from Craig Lowndes across the second stint of the race. He held on to third place through until the final round of stops, and returned to the track in the same effective position. A late race safety car bunched the field back up, but by that stage the tyre degradation across the front runners had equalised pace and there were no further changes in position. Coulthard moved through the pack across his first stint, pitting from the lead as the stops cycled through. He returned in p13, and then continued to push back through the field on a slightly different strategy to most runners. His was the final car to take its second stop with twenty laps remaining, with the debris safety car giving him the opportunity to take advantage of his newer tyres. He quickly moved from tenth to fifth, and latched onto the rear of Craig Lowndes, putting pressure on the Triple Eight driver that allowed McLaughlin to escape up the road. Coulthard had taken too much out of the tyres by that stage, and had to settle for fifth. McLaughlin continues to lead the Drivers' points, 152 points in front of Shane van Gisbergen. Fabian is seventh, but only two points back from sixth place. The Team is now equal first in the Team's points with Red Bull on 3244 points.

"It was a good day, I got a good start and got a couple on the first lap. We then had a reasonable first stint, but the second and third ones were much better. We could have changed our strategy in response to the guys around me, but there was good communication between Mark and I, and we stuck to our guns. It worked out beautifully when the Safety Car was called, and had a good enough car to make some passes. It's a credit to the team, we just need to qualifying better tomorrow."

"We were the best of the rest today. The two Triple Eight guys were seriously fast. I probably had enough for Shane, I think, but Jamie was very fast from the start and was very impressive. We've got a bit of work to do tonight, but we got a pole, have a fast car and just have a few things to work on with the race car for tomorrow."