Bathurst 1000 Recap
The opening day of the 2018 Bathurst 1000 saw practice being held at Mount Panorama in wet conditions, with the first session largely spent bedding braking components and locking in procedures for the team for the weekend ahead. Car No.17 drivers Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat shared the running throughout the session, whilst Fabian Coulthard ran the entire session in Car No.12.
Practice 2, a co-driver only session, saw Tony D’Alberto in Car No.12 and Alex Premat behind the wheel of Car No.17. Alex ran the most laps of any driver, acclimatising to the circuit and the conditions. He ended up running the fastest time of the session, six-tenths quicker than Garry Jacobson in the No.15 Nissan. Tony D’Alberto also ran a lot of laps (14), ending the session fifth fastest.
Main drivers returned to their cars for the final session of the day, again held in cold, wet conditions. It was a session where both cars again ran plenty of laps, learning about car balance in changeable conditions. Both Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto drove Car No.12, whilst Scott McLaughlin ran Car No.17 by himself. Ultimately, Fabian set the second fastest time of the session, with Scott third.
On-track running began Friday with the co-driver only Practice 4. Alex Premat and Tony D’Alberto started the session on wet tyres in damp conditions, however the rain stopped and a dry line began to appear mid-session. Both cars switched to slicks, as times dropped under 2m10s for the first time this weekend. The session was shortened by a red flag with three minutes remaining. The track again declared wet for Practice 5, the final practice session before qualifying.
Due to the conditions, Car No. 12 spent much of the session in the garage. Fabian Coulthard went out in the last 10 minutes of the session, setting the ninth fastest time of the session. He aborted his final flying lap after running wide at turn one. Scott McLaughlin ran a total of seven laps in a muted session, also due to the wet weather. He was eighth fastest. The 40-minute qualifying session Friday afternoon was the first time the cars had seen full-dry running this weekend. Each driver took four outings, with McLaughlin setting the third fastest time of the session to book a place in Saturday’s Top 10 Shootout. Coulthard set the 15th fastest time which is where he and Tony D’Alberto started Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
On Saturday, the final practice session of the weekend started with racing simulations, with a view to ensuring strong pace in Sunday’s 1000km epic. McLaughlin took over Car No. 17 from Premat halfway through the session, and their focus switched to qualifying pace to prepare for the Top 10 Shootout. McLaughlin was on a flying lap when a moment at The Cutting saw him very nearly hit the wall, forcing him to abort the lap. Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto spent the entire session working on race pace in Car No.12.
Scott McLaughlin rolled out as the eighth car for the Top 10 Shootout late Saturday afternoon, after provisionally qualifying third on Friday. The team made changes to the car overnight, and whilst McLaughlin was happy with the result, he couldn’t quite extract the maximum from the car over the single lap, ending up in fifth place to start on Sunday’s grid.
The 2018 edition of the Bathurst 1000 was another race of attrition, of both man and machine. Both Shell V-Power Racing Fords got a good start, with Car No.17 started by Scott McLaughlin and Car No.12 started by Tony D’Alberto.
McLaughlin took his first stop on 17, when Premat got behind the wheel for the second stint of the race. Premat settled into fourth place on the road after the first round of stops, and began pushing in a sensational stint. He took Car No.17’s second stop on lap 34, during a safety car period where some debris was cleaned from the circuit. Premat moved to third, and then second when Triple Eight runners Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell lost a wheel on the pit straight. Premat then past the Erebus No.9 to take the lead for the first time.
Premat pitted from the lead on lap 57, after a sensational drive. Scott jumped into the car, though a slow pit stop for a brake change pushed McLaughlin down to eighth. Light rain started to fall through this section of the race, although not heavy enough to cause a change to wet tyres. McLaughlin worked his way to fifth before taking a fourth stop on lap 77, again switching with Premat. The Frenchman again excelled in tricky conditions, returning to pit lane on lap 94 to hand the car back to McLaughlin for the rest of the day. McLaughlin settled into seventh place behind Coulthard until lap 111, when Coulthard allowed his team mate by to attempt an attack on the leaders. He worked his way forward to fourth, and then was third when David Reynolds took an unscheduled stop as he struggled with cramping in his right leg. After McLaughlin’s final scheduled stop of the day he sat fourth, until a drive-through penalty forced Reynolds back to pit-lane, and out of contention for the race.
The last segment of the race was a green flag sprint, with McLaughlin behind Lowndes and Pye. It ended with McLaughlin taking his first Bathurst 1000 podium in third position, with Alex Premat alongside him. McLaughlin is now only 19 points behind Shane van Gisbergen in the Driver’s Championship.
Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto’s day was up-and-down. D’Alberto started the race and made positions off the start to pit the first time on lap 22 from 11th position. He stayed in the car and continued to drive fast and clean, settling back into 11th on the road. Tony stopped during the lap 34 safety car, handing over to Coulthard who moved up to eighth on the restart. Coulthard began to move forward, with additional speed over the pack. He moved to sixth place after Car 1 struck trouble, before pitting on lap 48, re-entering the track in clean air, and being able to push hard to set some fast times.
He moved into first place on the road during the fourth round of stops, and stayed there until another service on lap 68, handing the car back to Tony for him to finish his co-driver laps. Tony did a great job holding second place until he handed the car back to Coulthard on lap 92 for the run to the flag. D’Alberto reported an issue with the transmission in the car to the team, which would progressively get worse across the afternoon. Coulthard ran sixth in this stint, before handing position to McLaughlin and dropping to seventh. He took another stop on lap 115, before his final stop on lap 139. He got to ninth place after all the strategy played out, however was unable to move any further forward as he nursed the car to the finish. He is now seventh in the Driver’s points, with the team second in the Team’s Points.
COULTHARD QUOTE: “It was a long day! It certainly would have been nice to get a better result, but I can’t be unhappy. We moved forward, and that’s all you can really ask for. I think not having enough dry running earlier in the week really hurt us, and I don’t think our car was where it should be for a long race like that one. We worked so hard all weekend, and I’m so proud of all my guys, and all the effort they’ve put in. They’ve had three gearboxes in and out of the thing all weekend. Hopefully we’ll find one that we like for the Gold Coast! Everyone should stand proud, with their heads high – it’s great to see Scott and Alex up on the podium, and congratulations to them.”
MCLAUGHLIN QUOTE: “It’s very cool to get a podium here at Bathurst. It’s something that I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid, and to share the podium with Lowndesy was incredible. It was very intense up there, with the crowd chanting. It was something that I will cherish forever. Alex and the team did a stellar job, and now I can’t wait to come back and try for the top step.”
D’ALBERTO QUOTE: “I was happy with the start, got off the line really well and was able to hold my own against many of the main game regular drivers there. That was our plan, and it worked out well. Both stints went well, and I had pace to stay with the leaders across my stints, which was good for me. We did what we could with what we had.”
PREMAT QUOTE: “It’s great to be back on the podium at Bathurst, always a great feeling to achieve that. The team worked really well together, and it is nice to get a reward for that. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
|1.||Shane Van Gisbergen||3276|
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
|1.||Triple Eight Race Engineering (Whincup/SVG)||6148|
|2.||Shell V-Power Racing Team||5539||-609|
|3.||Tickford Racing (Mostert/Winterbottom)||4066||-2082|
|4.||Brad Jones Racing||3921||-2227|
|6.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||3778||-2370|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport (Kelly/Heimgartner)||3636||-2512|
|8.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||3035||-3113|
|9.||Triple Eight Race Engineering (Lowndes)||2787||-3361|
|10.||NISMO (Caruso/De Silvestro)||2582||-3566|