Gold Coast 600 preview: Sun, surf and supercars

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    The 2017 Supercars silly season is bursting with potential. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

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    Sun, surf and Supercars. That is the mantra on the picturesque Gold Coast at this time of year, as the streets of Surfers Paradise gets set to host the gruelling finale to the Enduro Cup.

    The Gold Coast 600 is the final event that’ll see the regular drivers teamed up with their co-drivers and boasts the last opportunity to strike for the revered Pirtek Enduro Cup.

    Unlike the Sandown and Bathurst endurance events, Gold Coast sees its 600km split across a Saturday and Sunday race, with 300km comprising both.

    Nevertheless, each race represents 102-laps of potential carnage on the unforgiving concrete jungle, with Safety Cars aplenty – forever changing the outcomes of the race.

    In terms of the Enduro Cup standings, Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto come to the Gold Coast in the lead for DJR Team Penske, following their podium result at the Bathurst 1000. The pair have a slender 66-point lead over the two Prodrive cars tied on points, of Cam Waters and Chaz Mostert – with their respective partners Richie Stanaway and Steve Owen.

    Having also been bolstered into contention for the Enduro Cup following their emphatic Bathurst win, is the duo of David Reynolds and Luke Youlden, who trail the leading Coulthard by 72-points.

    Reynolds took his maiden Supercars victory at Surfers Paradise back in 2013 and since been a regular contender on street circuits, making he and the sharpened Erebus Commodore a threat to big guns.

    An outsider to take the Enduro Cup coming into the Gold Coast round is the sixth placed Scott Pye and Warren Luff. A season best result on the podium at Bathurst would have buoyed the HSV Racing Team, coming to a circuit that their Holden Commodore traditionally runs well.

    Not to mention too, that Luff is the only repeat winner of the Enduro Cup in the campaign’s history, having claimed the inaugural edition with Craig Lowndes in 2013 and then again with Garth Tander in 2015.

    Sitting down in tenth in the Enduro Cup standings, Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell have suffered a fruitless endurance campaign to date, though with a championship for Whincup to contend for in the long-run – there is no doubt that his previous eight victories on the Gold Coast will come to his advantage.

    Even with the Enduro Cup on the line, the sense is that drivers such as
    Whincup and the rest that comprise the top five of the overall standings, will be focussing on the championship at large. A topsy-turvy 1000km at Bathurst compressed the margin across the top five to 289-points, with big points on play this weekend.

    Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen were unfortunate with their Bathurst outcomes, but have the opportunity to redeem themselves and keep themselves well in the hunt, going into the final stages of the championship.

    Reigning Enduro and series champion in Van Gisbergen sits just behind his Red Bull Holden Racing teammate Whincup, with a total of three wins at the Gold Coast 600 – having shared one of those victories with Alex Prémat last year, who is now McLaughlin’s co-driver.

    McLaughlin himself is yet to claim a win on the streets of Surfers Paradise, despite his great speed there in the past. Will this time the young Kiwi finally get to hold the winner’s surfboard aloft?

    One last hurrah then for the co-drivers and the season of endurance in 2017. Will familiar faces grasp the peculiar looking Pirtek Enduro Cup, or will a new pairing be crowned the endurance champions.