Vodafone Gold Coast 600 – Saturday and Sunday see contrasting race conditions

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The Vodafone Gold Coast 600 was raced over this weekend on the Gold Coast of Australia. It was expected to showcase the seaside town of Surfers Paradise, with teams bathing in perfect conditions for the majority of the week – that was until a tropical thunderstorm put a premature end to Race 27 on Sunday.

Saturday and Sunday see contrasting race conditions

With torrents of water, lightning and near dark conditions, race control had to abandon the Sunday race. It proved contrasting conditions to Saturday, where Tickford Racing drivers Chaz Mostert and James Moffat claimed an important win for the Ford team, on a dry, sticky-street circuit.

However, with the Sunday race being affected badly by the weather, it put a dampener on the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 outcome. A shame for spectators and viewers, even though the racing on Saturday was brilliant on the traditional street circuit that runs alongside the beachfront of the Surfers Paradise resort town.

Chaz Mostert and James Moffat claim Race 26 win Saturday

Race 26 result:

  1. Chaz Mostert and James Moffat – Supercheap Autos/Tickford Racing
  2. Craig Lowndes and Steve Richards – Autobarn/Triple 888 Racing
  3. James Courtney and Jack Perkins – Boost Mobile/Andretti-Walkinshaw Racing

It was a result that surprised many, with the unsuccessful Mostert completing a well-constructed victory, alongside Moffat. The two drivers kept their noses clean, and it paid rewards after a brutal 102 lap race.

To begin the day under brilliant sunshine, race fans were looking forward to another classic battle. Scott McLaughlin continued his tradition of claiming the Pole Position. It sat him near the right end of the grid, while Virgin Australia V8 Supercars championship leader Shane van Gisbergen was demoted to 9th place.

That was due to a qualifying incident, where he and a number of others were deemed to have crossed too far over the chicane. And while ‘the Giz’ had extra motivation to push hard, so did every other driver in the championship table.

Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes had another terrible qualifying session, contrasting the Red Bull Holden Racing team cars, with Jamie Whincup in 5th place. But the Ford Falcon was still showing that in it’s last few races (before being replaced by the Ford Mustang) that the old car still had some muscle.

And by winning the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, Chaz Mostert reinforced the talent that the Tickford Racing/Supercheap Autos team still hold.

Mostert shows he is still a ‘big race’ player

One pair of drivers enjoyed renewed success on the streets of Surfers Paradise. Not tasting the champagne since the same race venue in 2017, Chaz Mostert was pleased for his team and for his co-driver.

“James drove the wheels off it and gave it back in a good position. I just tried to manage the gap and look after the car,” Mostert said on Supercars.com.

“It’s been a tough year, it really has, and this guy is unbelievable. We’re lucky to have him.”

After a safety car on lap 23 changed the complexion of the race, penalties saw several cars fall further down the ladder. Only Lowndes was heading up the standings, and he was only withheld from racing Mostert, when a call to conserve fuel limited his attacking ability.

Through good driving, strategy and with the chasing cars needing to conserve fuel, Mostert was able to run down the laps and to collect the prize on Saturday. The Supercheap Racing team were well placed on Sunday too. James Moffat had started, to complete the minimum 34 laps for co-drivers, and at one stage held the race lead.

So the form of Saturday might have in fact translated into back-to-back wins. But, with that race stopped short, fans of the Falcon will never know if the Blue Oval could have stood again, on the top of the podium.

Officials forced to abandon Race 27 on Sunday

There was no hiding the disappointment of fans, when the race was called off. Not completing enough laps, and judged to be dangerous (as seen below), the contrast in conditions from Saturday meant that after the race start, as the weather deteriorated the track was in an undrivable state.

Pictures of teams standing in water in their pit garages, fans walking through large puddles and most importantly, the corners and main straight seeing the cars – when under the Safety Car – aquaplaning at 60 kmph. Race officials were rightly unprepared to allow cars to continue to race.

Officially, that means Race 27 would not be Validated – as it did not reach the minimum number of laps permitted to confirm a ‘race’. And with that outcome (and with no Supercar series points awarded), the result dashed the hopes for all other driver combinations to overhaul the Pirtek Enduro Cup competition, that was won by Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards.

Officials do not like to abandon any race, but when asked Lowndes told FoxSports that it was the right call. His view was supported by experienced drivers, like Garth Tander.

Tander answered a FoxSports interview by saying “a lot of people at home will say ‘you’ve got wet tyres, and you just drive to the conditions. It is simply not like that.”

“If we started that race, there’d be 25 cars crashed before we got to turn one! Simple as that.”

“We got to think that we are racing in New Zealand in two weeks time. We have got to get the cars and freight over there. You’ve got to look at the bigger picture, you can’t race in these conditions.”

One driver who was not pleased was Shane van Gisbergen. His retort post-race was that the race officials should have foreseen the conditions, and should also have more flexibility when calling a race a full-race. Not an isolated view, but more pointed at the fact that he collects no points and fell behind Scott McLaughlin in the standings.

Heading across the Tasman to the ITM Auckland Supersprint, a slender 14-point lead separates the Kiwi drivers. So teams go on the tough Pukekohe track, where the season-long Red Bull v DJR Team Penske battle will continue.

Next race: ITM Auckland Supersprint – November 2-4, Pukekohe

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