New Zealander Fabian Coulthard has lifted a millstone from his neck with a maiden V8 Supercar victory in today’s opening hitout in the MSS Security-backed V8 Supercars Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
With only one podium to show for all his V8 Supercar toil over the last four years, Coulthard’s breakout victory in his Holden Commodore VF at Albert Park was decisive.
He completed the 11-lap race 1.7467 seconds ahead of team-mate Jason Bright, with the fast-finishing Will Davison (Ford Falcon FG) claiming the last spot on the podium.
Coulthard was the early leader before he slipped back to third during the hussle of compulsory pit stops and the intervention of the safety car (caused by Alexandre Premat barrelling in to the wall at turn one after clipping the tail of Lee Holdsworth exiting put lane).
It took him until the final lap to inch his way back into the top spot after passing long-time leader Shane Van Gisbergen (Commodore VF).
Gisbergen’s car then gave up the ghost seconds later, which briefly elevated Craig Lowndes (Commodore VF) into third position before Davidson blasted pass to make it his own. Lowndes was struggling for grip at that stage, and team-mate Jamie Whincup also made his way past as well – but not after some nervous moments as the pair swapped paint at one stage.
Van Gisbergen will now start from way back in position 26 for race two, as the V8 Supercars are adopting a progressive grid at Albert Park – drivers start where they are classified in the preceding event.
Meanwhile, Premat’s car was left badly damaged after his indiscretion, while Michael Caruso (Nissan Altima) was another DNF after being on the receiving end of a bump from Tony D’Alberto (Commodore VF) on lap one.
Race two is at 2:20pm this afternoon.