If you were among the crowd at the Australian Grand Prix 11 years ago, the name Coulthard should be familiar to you.
Not just because ‘DC’, Scotland’s F1 star David Coulthard, led the Formula 1 race for 10 laps in his McLaren Mercedes: his (literally) distant cousin, New Zealander Fabian Coulthard, was also on track.
Not among the F1 elite, of course: the English-born New Zealand driver was making his Albert Park debut as a Formula Ford driver. The field, in which his combative driving stood out, included names like J. Whincup.
Fast forward over a decade and the two are still doing battle. But their paths to Albert Park 2013 have been very different. Whincup is now one of the most decorated drivers in V8 Supercar history; Coulthard is only starting out on his own serious journey to Supercar success.
He’s been around the V8 scene for years, mind you: after the familiar ‘went-to-the-UK-till-the-money-ran-out’ phase that most antipodean drivers endure, he came back to Australia for a front-running spell in Carrera Cup before this country’s premier category called.
Fabian has spent time at addresses like Paul Cruickshank Racing and Walkinshaw Racing but seems to have found his natural home at last – he’s 30 now – with V8 stalwarts Brad Jones, Team BOC and Lockwood.
At the start of his second year with the popular Albury outfit Coulthard has his first V8 Supercar win under his belt – in fact, right now he has two after a flying start to the Albert Park weekend.
It began with pole position, after what he called “pretty much a dream run”, and has continued through the first half of the four-race V8 program. In race one he headed teammate Jason Bright and FPR Ford’s Will Davison home; in race two the Jones boys were split by Craig Lowndes in the Red Bull Commodore.
“I always knew I had the ability to do it,” said Coulthard on Friday. “This has just restored that faith.”
For teams like the Jones brothers’ and drivers like Coulthard, V8 Supercars’ ‘new era’ has already proved a blessing.
“The Car of the Future has made the transition easier,” he says firmly. “We have all got that same, or thereabouts, equipment now. Everybody now has the base car and whoever extracts best on the day gets the result.”
So far it’s Coulthard who’s extracted the best from the Commodore VF. He has a perfect 150 points so far, 17 clear of teammate Jason Bright and 26 more than Red Bull’s Craig Lowndes and Will Davison, the first Ford man on the board, with two more races to come.