Fabian Coulthard won Race 17 of the Supercars series at the Sydney SuperSprint.
Fabian Coulthard won Race 17 of the Supercars series at the Sydney SuperSprint. Daniel Kalisz

Coulthard wins as McLaughlin and SVG clash

FABIAN Coulthard has won a carnage-filled Race 17 at the Sydney SuperSprint after a dramatic mid-race restart where the leaders tangled.

Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen bumped side by side all the way down to the start line before the Red Bull driver edged ahead into Turn 1.

McLaughlin then spun the No.97 at the apex of Turn 2, sending Van Gisbergen spinning to the back of the field.

Coulthard picked the right side of the plume of smoke and avoided the damage, racing past the damaged Holdens and cruising on to his teammate's tail, soon moving past into a lead he wouldn't lose.

"Rapt for the boys, they gave me a good pit stop, kept out of trouble but it all unfolded in front of me," Coulthard said. "Sorry for Scotty, not 100 per cent sure on what happened, but we'll take it.

"Quite often the outside doesn't normally work; you normally spin to the outside. Shane got off the brakes slightly and I was hoping his rear wing wouldn't hit my car."

McLaughlin crossed the line in second place but fell to 10th with the penalty - five places ahead of the recovering van Gisbergen.

That left it to Chaz Mostert - who picked the inside - to take second place, while Whincup somehow wrangled his mangled Commodore to the final podium step.

"Yeah, Car 88's definitely looked better than what it does now. It doesn't go too good down the straight with the speed hump at the front," Whincup said.

"Did they show any on-board (vision)? Were people laughing at me? I couldn't see a thing! I was running off the track, a little bit dodgy in a way but got there.

"Rapt to be on the podium with what went on. Temp was up but the tyre, there was a good chance that thing was gonna let go - but it was my day! It hung on and we got some good points."

Mark Winterbottom led for much of the early stages of the race but a strategy to pit late consigned him to fourth, while Scott Pye scored an impressive fifth from Michael Caruso. Craig Lowndes, David Reynolds, Garth Tander and McLaughlin rounded out the top 10.

As soon as the race finished, McLaughlin marched down to the Red Bull garage and apologised to Van Gisbergen, the pair shaking hands before parting.

McLaughlin took full blame without hesitation.

"Yeah, what can I say? Absolute balls-up on my behalf," McLaughlin said.

"Sorry to him and his team - I saw that Jamie got damage too. Not the way I want to do it. Glad for Shell V-Power Racing to at least get a win.

"Again, sorry to everyone at home. Sorry, it's not my style."

Van Gisbergen accepted the apology, but struggled to hide his frustration at the scale of the penalty.

"(I) got in front of Scotty and he's hit me once and I tried to correct it, then he's finished me off," the reigning champion said.

"To his credit he was straight here apologising; all good, we'll box on.

"The thing I couldn't believe is that he only got 15 seconds and we're up the back. But bigger people than me make those decisions."

The mid-race carnage was just one incident among a dramatic race.

It started at Turn 1, when Van Gisbergen, a slow-starting McLaughlin and Coulthard ran three-wide through Turn 1 battling over second behind Winterbottom.

James Courtney, Will Davison and Jason Bright's attempt to do the same behind them was less successful; the latter pair squeezed Courtney to the apex, contact between the Boost Mobile Holden and the Lightning McQueen-liveried car sending Davison and Bright spinning to the tail of the field.

McLaughlin was the first of the leaders to pit on Lap 10, Van Gisbergen passing Winterbottom for the lead on the following lap before he too pitted. An unusually slow stop from the Red Bull crew saw him rejoin behind the Shell Falcon.

Winterbottom continued to lead from Whincup, their decision to pit later expected to cost them track position to McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen but give them better tyres for the race to the end.

The complexion of the race changed on Lap 16 when Todd Kelly, running on the cusp of the top 10, blew a tyre on his Nissan Altima. The debris left all over the circuit at the penultimate complex of corners drew out the Safety Car, setting up the dramatic collision between McLaughlin and Van Gisbergen.

The win, Coulthard's fourth of the year, moves him right back into the thick of the title battle. McLaughlin now leads Whincup by just 78 points, with Coulthard a further 83 points adrift.

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