Brimming with confidence and feeling the support of his home crowd, DJR Team Penske driver Fabian Coulthard went into the Auckland Supersprint weekend determined to put on a good show, however, right from the start things didn’t go the way he had hoped.
Following the cancellation of qualifying due to torrential rain, the grid for the opening race of the wakened was set by the combined practice times set on Friday and this saw Fabian start from P7.
The track dried sufficiently by the time the race got underway so he was able to put slick tyres on his Shell Ford.
A long first stop saw Fabian take maximum fuel, with the benefit of a shorter second stop. He was up to 10th position and pushing forward in the final stint of the race when an incident between Chaz Mostert and David Reynolds out of the hairpin saw Fabian pushed onto the damp grass. There was no grip out there, and the No.12 went backwards into the wall at Turn 9, which then flipped the car onto its roof.
Thankfully Fabian climbed out of the car, and walked away, however it has left the crew with a big repair job overnight. As a result, he dropped down to third place in the championship, 110 points back.
“It just basically all stems from that redress that Chaz tried to do when he bumped Reynolds out of the way,” he explained. “I went along for the ride. It’s one of those situations where you’re a passenger and you just don’t know how hard it’s going to hit and when it’s going to hit. Being the racer that I am, you go to anyone down pit lane they would’ve done exactly the same thing I did. There was a gap, I went for it and I just got a tag from Reynolds, so it is what it is. I’m gutted for my guys, obviously. The car is fixable, it’s just going to be a long night tonight.”
Race two on Sunday was a race of conservation and strategy, with smart driving and good work in the pits seeing Fabian jump from an eighth place start into a top-five finish.
Fabian fell back a little in the early stages of the race, however as pit stops and fuel strategies played out he catapulted through the field.
It was a strong points haul for him after Saturday’s disastrous DNF, and he is now 176 points back from the lead in third place of the Championship and refusing to give up until all is said and done.
His good run also scored valuable Team’s points, with Shell V-Power Racing leading the board by 106 heading into the final event.
“I’m nothing without my team, and the fact that I was out on track at all is completely down to them,” he said. “After finishing up on my roof on Saturday, I’m very happy to finish in the top-five, and will keep pushing to the end.”