With only kilograms of race fuel left in the tank of his Ford Mustang, the 2019 Bathurst win for Virgin Australia V8 Supercars series leader Scott McLaughlin came down to a successful fuel strategy – ‘eeking out the lean ration of gas, right up until the final corner of Mt Panorama.
The driver claimed his first-ever Bathurst victory, alongside his co-driver Alex Premat. A jubilant McLaughlin was ecstatic, and knew that his win was reliant on both a positive strategy, as well as a fuel strategy that placed him above many other challengers.
After claiming the chequered flag by a margin of just 0.00 seconds over countryman Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin said “Oh man, I can’t believe I won the bloody Bathurst 1000. We won!”
"I've dreamt about this mate"
Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat let the #Bathurst1000 win sink in.
Watch ? Live on Fox Sports 506! pic.twitter.com/6S8vWzohbX
— FOX MOTORSPORT (@Fox_Motorsport) October 13, 2019
His youthful exuberance belies the fact that he has dominated the podiums for 2019. This was his 18th victory – continuing to raise the bar, after overtaking Craig Lowndes’ old record of 16. Who knows how many more, the Kiwi can garner this season.
This win also extends the huge points advantage in the 2019 Virgin Australia V8 Supercars championship. A massive 622 points ahead of van Gisbergen and 787 ahead of teammate Fabian Coulthard.
Final Safety Car caution gives DJR Penske Mustang maximum benefit
With only a dozen laps remaining, on a lean fuel strategy compared to seven-time champion Jamie Whincup, it allowed Scott Mclaughlin a maximum benefit from a fuel strategy that was ‘just enough’ for the leading V8 Supercars driver to claim his debut Bathurst title.
It was so close to being a tragedy though, as once the Safety Car brought the field back together, it positioned series rival Shane van Gisbergen within range – he was on his own fuel strategy, and had the will to claim his own first Bathurst title.
It was down to 0.4 seconds. Almost within touching distance, each driver was completing similar lap times – only Chaz Mostert was quicker. Although he was virtually a lap down, after ruining fellow Tickford Racing driver Cam Waters race.
What more can be said of the final laps though, with leader Jamie Whincup needing a ‘splash & dash’ fillup but Scott McLaughlin’s team decided that time behind a Safety Car would promote their fuel strategy of conservation.
Scott McLaughlin, your 2019 #Bathurst1000 champion!
Watch ? Live on Fox Sports 506! pic.twitter.com/g9wL9wqv5w
— FOX MOTORSPORT (@Fox_Motorsport) October 13, 2019
And it worked a treat. He was able to still push hard enough to keep van Gisbergen at bay. Making for a breathtaking finish; continuing the trend of winning margins of no more than five seconds [after 1000 kilometers of nose-to-tail racing that is].
Scott McLaughlin stands tallest after 161 laps
The classic Ford vs Holden battle ran hard throughout the day. Starting on pole, after one the quickest Top 10 shootout laps fans have ever witnessed, Scott McLaughlin was the man to catch. The Red Bull Holden Racing team were their biggest rivals, alongside the Tickford group of four Mustangs. Across the race day though, the pace of the ‘red and yellow pony’ was outstanding.
The Shell V Power team had fuel savings in mind well before the Yellow Flag – knowing he had the pace – but once that saving period was over, he needed to ‘floor it’. And as much as the Giz wanted too, he was unable to bridge the gap before the black and white chequered flag dropped. Winning co-driver Alex Premat added, “That was so stressful. That was insane. Everything was gambling, gambling. That was crazy.”
Full credit to both camps. As ever, determination and competitiveness were equalled by the excitement on the track.
While several accidents caused yellow flags, only one major crash saw Josh Hazelwood requiring further medical attention. An endurance race that stops a nation, and while post-race investigations may see DJR Team Penske questioned over the actions of Fabian Coulthard in the 134th lap safety car delay, the racing was hard but fair.
The highlights package will find many key moments. Driver changes were again crucial, with Premat holding the lead for a time, as did 2019 champion Craig Lowndes, and van Gisbergen’s co-driver Garth Tander. Leading drivers all led the pack at one time or another, but as the safety car period frequency intensified in the last third of the race, casualties saw the Tickford Mustangs and Nissan challenge fall away. Andre Heimgartner fell on lap 158, which ruined any hopes the Kelly Racing team had.
The final placings seemed to reflect the pace and consistency of drivers. Topping the table; as he has all year long, was Scott McLaughlin. He deserved to raise the Peter Brock Trophy and be called the ‘King of the Mountain’ for 2019.
V8 Supercars 2019 Championship points:
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||2686|
The Virgin Australia V8 Supercars now head to another enduro-round. The Vodafone Gold Coast 600 takes place from October 25 – 27, and is the last chance for challenging drivers to push McLaughlin from a probable run to back-to-back Championships.
“Main photo credit”
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