Coulthard overcame tyre problems to win at Phillip Island
Fabian Coulthard (DJR Team Penske) has won the chaotic first race of the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 event at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. For the driver of #12 Ford FG X Falcon, Saturday’s victory is second of the season and after five races he’s now the points leader in the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Tyre failures and time penalties marked the race
Craig Lowndes was first who crossed the finish line under the Safety Car on lap 51, but he was one of many drivers with a 15-second time penalty for crossing into the slow lane at pit entry. Time penalty dropped him to 12th place, one spot ahead of Simona de Silvestro. The only female V8SC driver finished sixth on the road but she was also penalized.
The race had been marked by numerous tyre failures. One of the victims was eventual winner Coulthard, who had a right-rear puncture while leading on lap 19. He handed a lead to team-mate Scott McLaughlin, who started from pole. After ten drivers had puncture and blowouts, the Safety Car was called on lap 23 to clean up tyre debris on the circuit.
Tyre-change strategies then became decisive. The front-runners McLaughlin, Van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom took their second stops but shortly after that they all were penalized for crossing into the slow lane at pit entry. The same penalty his few more drivers, including Lowndes, Percat, Holdsworth and De Silvestro.
After the final restart, Safety Car came out for the last time caused by Percat suffering a tyre failure and crashing into Alex Rullo.