View Full Version : Thrilling Championship Finale at Newcastle 500

06-12-17, 11:41 AM

It was a Hollywood-esque championship finale. A brand new track with a fabulous backdrop, a veteran driver versus a young gun, the defending championship team versus a well-funded upstart. It had all the ingredients for a blockbuster and Newcastle 500 duly delivered it, and more.


Friday qualifying was the first time that the Supercarsí drivers got to grips with the track, and already Scott Mclaughlin demonstrated his pace by grabbing pole position. With Jamie Whincup claiming the 5th spot, and Shane Van Gisbergen coming 3rd, Saturdayís race was going to be an uphill battle. Coming into the final races of the championship with a narrow 30 point lead, the Triple 888 team had their work cut out for them. However, it seemed that anything that could go wrong, did go wrong for them.


On Saturdayís race, Jamie Whincup saw his championships falter as he contacted fourth placed Michael Caruso at Turn 3. His Holden front right got locked into the left rear of Carusoís Nissan, breaking Whincupís steering, and forcing him to limp back to the pits for repairs. Emerging later, Whincup finished the race in 24th spot, 13 laps down on McLaughlin who made the most of his pole position to win the first race of the weekend.

Shane Van Gisbergen tagged David Reynolds as the pair jostled for position, earning Van Gisbergen a 15 second pit-stop penalty. Reynolds fell back to fifth, but Van Gisbergen emerged from the pits to rejoin in 24th place. He finally finished the race in 16th spot.

Craig Lowdnes also shared his T888 teammatesí misery when a mistake saw him hit the wall at Turn 12, resulting in internal damage and unable to complete the race.

The resulting 1-2 finish from Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard ensured DJR Team Penske the 2017 team championship win. McLaughlin also only needed to place 11th in the final race to clinch it the driversí championship resulting.

McLaughlin claimed his 17th pole position for Sundayís 92 lap race, setting a blistering pace despite surface changes to protect the track at various turns. Van Gisbergen is right behind him being only 0.02 seconds off the top spot. Whincup could only place 5th again, with Reynolds and Winterbottom ahead of him on the starting grid.

However in his eagerness to lock up the driversí championship, McLaughlin made a series of mistakes. He came in too hot for his first pitstop, resulting in a drive through penalty, dropping the Ford back to 22nd place. Whincup gained ground from 5th to 3rd after the first round of stops, but McLaughlin soon found himself having a shot again as he scythe through the back runners. However, another mistake at Turn 2 set him back again. He tagged the impressive Simona de Silvestro and turned her around. Race stewards had no hesitation in serving him another 15 second penalty, dropping him back to 23rd place.


Meanwhile, the Triple 8 cars were putting as much distance between themselves and DJR Team Penske. Van Gisbergen seized first place from David Reynolds, soon followed up by Whincup, locking up the 1-2.

The Safety Car coming out after Lucas Dumbrell Motorsportís Taz Douglas found the wall and left debris on the track, bunching the field and handing McLaughlin a lifeline. Gisbergen then let Whincup pass so he could have a greater chance of winning the driversí championship after the Safety Car lap.

McLaughlin soon found himself in 13th place, before another incident handicapped him. A bump between Scott Pye and Jason Bright resulted in a smoking rear left tyre, hampering his ability to reach 11th place. Finally, he managed to grab the required 11th place to win the championship, before letting it all slip away in the next lap.

After passing Moffat on lap 93, McLaughlin soon found himself under pressure from a resurgent Craig Lowdnes. After making a mistake, Lowdnes attempted a pass on the inside, but McLaughlin came over to protect his line, and ended knocking Lowdnes into the wall. Lowdnesí Commodoreís front left suspension was shattered, and spun the car backwards into the barrier as he tried to brake for Turn 2.


Just before Whincup reached the checkered flag, the race stewards handed down a 25 seconds penalty to McLaughlin for the incident. Despite finishing the race in 11th place, the penalty meant that McLaughlin was demoted to 18th place, handing Whincup the driverís championship.

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