Honours shared in Darwin Round of 2018 Virgin Australia V8 Supercars Championship

A win for a Ford, and a race for a Holden. It means honours were shared after the Darwin round of the 2018 Virgin Australia V8 Supercars Championship.

Scott McLaughlin continued his run of form, to improve from Friday practice and to win the feature race on Saturday. And then, to redress the Falcon’s win, David Reynold’s replied on Sunday with a commanding win in his Holden Commodore.

Honours shared in Darwin Round Of V8 Supercars Championship

Ford wins Race 15; Holden Race 16

Back-to-back podiums for David Reynolds; with a reward of third place in Race 15, and first place triumph in Race 16 saw him with a huge smile. He has enjoyed a good record up in the North of Queensland – and celebrated in his own imaginative way.

Erebus Penrite Racing appear to have a good idea of where to maximize the speed from their ZB Commodore. Fellow Holden teams like Red Bull Australia Racing and Wilson Security Racing have been close, but not close enough. And with the combination of speed, plus a more aggressive drive from David Reynolds that was epitomized by his overtaking move at turn 1 – flat out, around the outside of two cars – shows that Reynolds can definitely ‘punch above his weight’ when he has the machinery underneath him.

After the 2017 Bathurst 1000 win, the Erebus team are extremely confident, and that was shown in his third place in the standings. When the mobile podium semi-trailer positioned itself on the front straight, ready for the winning driver to receive his trophy, the points standings had only slightly been altered. Reynolds cementing third place behind Shane van Gisbergen and McLaughlin.

Series lead in Championship extended

A 161 point championship lead is something that most competitors would be elated with. It is a full race win compliment [150 points] but as you never entirely earn a haul of points that can extend any lead, the lead over van Ginsberg is more than comfortable.

Winning Race 15, and a second place in Race 16 will satisfy both the driver and the team principal. “Saturday was awesome. 100 wins for Shell V-Power Racing is fantastic,” so the Dick Johnson Racing team can certainly be happy with the overall position. Lucky too.

After the opening quarter of Race 16, commentators spoke of smoke that was noticeable from the number #17 Falcon. That seemed to become worse, and the combination of high track temperatures and running behind traffic combined to create an ‘oil surge’ in the words of the Shell V-Power engineers. It spat oil onto the manifold, which luckily did not create an oil pressure issue.

Oil Smoke issue clouds Scott McLaughlin in Race 16

McLaughlin was clever, gaining fresh air and by the time of the final laps, he had cooled the engine temperature. The oil was fortunately not a track issue, and if any worse, then the following Red Bull car could well have raised it with race control. Over the last 30 laps, McLaughlin was able to match the speed of Jamie Whincup and take second.

It was a good return for the championship leader, a good return for the reigning champion [Whincup] but it was a tough weekend on the machinery.

While Scott McLaughlin survived his oil smoke scare, it added to the tyre-age issue which every team had to manage. Garth Tander in Race 15, and Shane van Gisbergen in Race 16 benefited by having fresh tyres. That is a key for all races, but certainly in the right-hand dominant Darwin track, teams had focused on rear tyre-wear.

Every driver struggled with the temperatures in Darwin. 30 degree’s plus, with a track and an extreme cabin temp meaning that the drivers hydration and fitness will have played it’s part. A tribute to the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship drivers, that they can operate at 100% when the temperatures are near to ‘extreme’.

But undoubtedly by the end of the weekend, the Erebus Penrite Racing Commodore was ‘the car to beat’. Speed was an advantage, and the ability of the leading teams to run in clear air meant that after the 70 laps, cars which were able to gain places; Reynolds, van Gisbergen, Craig Lowndes and Mark Winterbottom, will all walk away happy from the Darwin round of the championship.

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