Melbourne, 16 September, 2019 – The Ford Performance Mustang Supercar has won Race 24 of the ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Park Raceway, New Zealand. An action-packed weekend of racing saw Shell V-Power Racing’s Scott McLaughlin win a controversial Sunday Race, extending his lead in the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, while Saturday’s race saw Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters the highest-finishing Mustang in second position. Both races saw controversy, with driving penalties and Safety Car interventions playing a significant role in the final outcome of both races.
“What an intense weekend, with plenty of heart-stopping moments and some controversy on Sunday that cost both Mustang teams better results,” said Kay Hart, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand, who trackside to support the Ford Performance Mustang teams. “The Tickford Mustangs showed such an impressive turn of speed, made all the more satisfying as all four cars showed serious pace,” said Hart. “Shell V-Power Racing showed that, after a tough Saturday, you can’t keep them down for long. Congratulations to Scott and the team on Scott’s record of most wins for a driver in a single-season – what an accomplishment, and how great for Mustang fans.”
Tickford Racing showed serious performance out-of-the-box in New Zealand, setting the pace in all three practice sessions across Friday and Saturday. Will Davison, Lee Holdsworth and Chaz Mostert topped a session each, as the lap record was broken at the resurfaced 2.91-kilometre Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Armor All Qualifying for Saturday’s Race 23 saw Tickford on the front foot, with Cameron Waters proving the fastest of the Ford drivers pipped to Pole Position by a mere 0.1506 seconds to park his Monster Energy Mustang on the front row in second position. Mustangs filled the next four grid positions, with Davison third and Mostert fourth, with the Shell V-Power Racing pair of Fabian Coulthard and McLaughlin rounding out the top six. Lee Holdsworth started Saturday’s race in P8, meaning that all Mustangs started in the top ten.
While a victory didn’t eventuate, Cameron Waters converted P2 into a P2 finish following driver penalties, with McLaughlin in fourth, Holdsworth in fifth and Couthard in seventh. Davison, who had performed strongly in the Milwaukee Tickford Mustang, was served a penalty that saw him classified ninth after the chequered flag. Chaz Mostert suffered damage during the race, which saw him finish last, however he importantly completed enough laps to add to his points tally in the drivers’ championship.
Sunday saw rain threaten both qualifying and the race, but both events remained unaffected by the intermittent drizzle. Sunday’s qualifying included an Armor All Top Ten Shootout, with Tickford again claiming P2 as the highest placed Mustang.
Lee Holdsworth, who’d set fifth fastest time on qualifying to gain entry to the Top Ten Shootout, endured an agonizing wait after posting fastest time mid-way through the session. In a repeat of Saturday, Holdsworth was pipped to Armor All Pole Position – this time by a mere 0.1985 seconds – to start on the front row with Waters, Coulthard and McLaughlin’s Mustangs completing the top five. Mostert and Davison were seventh and eighth fastest.
Sunday’s race saw controversy, following the deployment of the Safety Car, which failed to correctly pick up the race leader. The confusion saw Lee Holdsworth, Will Davison, Cameron Waters and Fabian Coulthard disadvantaged, with Scott McLaughlin moving into second position, and ultimately the race lead following a penalty for the race leader.
“We had serious pace here this weekend, and the Safety Car ruined the race for three of our four cars,” said Tim Edwards, Tickford Racing team manager. “It’s hard to be positive after such a serious issue, but we’re still happy to grab a podium with Chaz. It was little retribution for events that were out of our drivers’ control, and shouldn’t have happened. We look to Bathurst with some positivity, though, as all four of our cars and drivers are coming on strong.”
Shell V-Power Racing celebrated Scott McLaughlin’s victory, which was some consolation after Coulthard’s race was affected by the Safety Car controversy. The comeback after an uncharacteristic Saturday performance from the team was sealed with a stunning drive from McLaughlin, who posted his 17th win for the season, poetically in the famous Number 17.
“What an incredible achievement for Scott,” said Ryan Story, Team Principal and co-owner, Shell V-Power Racing Team. “It had been a tough weekend and we made some improvements overnight leading into Sunday's race. Fabian deserved a solid top five or better result today, but didn't get to bank one as a direct consequence of some unfortunate business with the Safety Car that really shook up the race order and hurt a lot of drivers’ days. Overall a credit to the team who never gave up and kept pushing to enable Scott to now hold the record for most wins in a single season – a record that had stood for 23 years.”
Scott McLaughlin leads the 2019 Drivers’ Championship in the #17 Mustang, with 3008 points, with Chaz Mostert third in the overall standings on 2327 points in the Supercheap Tickford Mustang. Fabian Coulthard is fourth (2317 points), Cameron Waters seventh (1975), Will Davison ninth (1811) and Lee Holdsworth elevated to tenth (1704 points).
Shell V-Power Racing leads the Teams’ Championship on 5265 points, with The Bottle-O/Supercheap Auto Tickford Racing third (3981) and Monster Energy Racing fifth (3706).
Round 12 of the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will take place between 10 –13 October with the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales. Tickets can be purchased via supercars.com.au