In race one it was Jamie Whincup snapped a 15-race losing streak, his longest in eight years, at Sydney Motorsport Park. On the Day he didn’t have the quickest car, and it was slowed even further by a broken exhaust pipe, but the six-time champion used skill and smarts to block Fabian Coulthard’s advances to score a landmark win.
Chaz Mostert was third in the second of two sprints, after an easy run to victory in the first heat with his Prodrive Falcon. Whincup jumped to the lead when Mostert spun the wheels on his car, then fended off Coulthard’s efforts for the win.
“I had a wounded car, but we got there. We weren’t the quickest car out there, but that’s the game. We are working pretty hard to get back up there. It’s been a while since we’ve had a win.” Whincup said.
At the front, none of the podium runners were happy but all were glad to get healthy points.
“It’s just so hard to pass around here. But it was good, it was clean, it was fun,” Coulthard said.
For Mostert, who is now second in the championship chase to his team mate Mark Winterbottom, even squandering his tenth pole position of the season was not a major drama.
“The good thing when you’re on pole is that even when you make a mistake you only lose a couple of spots. It’s not a missed opportunity. I got a bit of wheelspin and you don’t want to crash on the startline because you look like a bit of a flog.” Mostert said.
For Winterbottom, P2 in race one was a lot better than eighth in the second. “I wasn’t quick enough,” he admitted. Race two was just bad. I was in a world of hurt from lap two.”
In the feature race Chaz Mostert closed the gap to Mark Winterbottom with two wins in three races at Sydney Motorsport Park. He crossed the line 7.6 seconds ahead of the Holdens of Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright. Mostert now sits just 174 points behind Winterbottom, who qualified in 12th and finished a lowly 16th.
“It all came down to strategy. We pitted at the right times and the car was good in the rain, so it was a good day for us,” smiled Mostert post-race.
Holden veteran Craig Lowndes, who came into the weekend hot on Winterbottom‘s tail but is now third overall, came in 10th. Team-mate and six-time champion Whincup could not build on his drought-breaking win and podium on Saturday, managing only 14th place.
Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin started on pole but had to tussle with the Ford of David Reynolds for the lead on the opening lap. McLaughlin held on, but his effort was undone by a safety car just as the second lap got underway – triggered by a collision between his team-mate David Wall and Nissan’s Todd Kelly.
The entire field headed straight for the pitlane to top up with fuel and mix up their tyres. Mostert came out in front, ahead of Reynolds, as each team’s strategies began to play out. However strategy went out the window when the heavens opened on lap 24. Rain hit the track just before mid-point of the race which saw several cars going off in the slippery conditions and the safety car being deployed for a second time.
Dale Wood was the first casualty, sliding his Commodore on the wet track and beaching it in the gravel. It prompted another safety car and a slew of manic pitstops. Van Gisbergen charged in the wet, making his way through from 15th to sixth in just four laps, before climbing further still to his eventual fourth. Pole-sitter McLaughlin came home fifth, Reynolds sixth, and Nissan’s Michael Caruso in seventh.
Mostert again emerged in front and managed to stay there for the remainder of the race, giving Mostert his fifth win of the year. The race was cut by two laps due to broadcast and scheduling time restrictions. The championship next heads to Sandown, marking the beginning of the endurance series.