Gold Coast 600 key talking points

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

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    The season of endurance has reached its climax with another edition of the Gold Coast 600 delivering more entertaining racing in the 2017 Supercars championship.

    From a weekend which saw rain play its hand in the first race to a new championship leader emerging, here are some of the key talking points from the streets of Surfers Paradise.

    Mostert and Owen the endurance champions
    A new duo was crowned endurance champions for 2017, as Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen became the first Ford pairing to win the Enduro Cup since its inception in 2013.

    Victory in the rain-affected Saturday race on the Gold Coast all but handed the pilots of the #55 car the ascendency, with a top-ten finish on Sunday sealing the deal.

    Mostert and Owen have been consistent throughout the endurance campaign, having failed to finish outside the top ten in all three of the events. Their worst result was the tenth scored at Bathurst, with a podium at Sandown preceding that.

    The 660 points accumulated by Mostert across the Enduro Cup has also thrust him right back into championship contention, with a 126-point deficit to new standings leader Jamie Whincup.

    With four races remaining in 2017 and a yield of 600 points on the table, Mostert and the sharpened Prodrive squad are becoming a threat to the Red Bull Holdens and DJR Team Penske drivers.

    (Image: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    Qualifying means little in endurance racing
    Often in long-distance races, particularly in the Supercars championship, the results of qualifying do not bear any significance on the final result in the race. Strategy and perseverance are the foundations of endurance racing, meaning that anything can happen.

    Though on such a demanding street circuit such as Surfers Paradise, seldom do surprises like the outcome of the Sunday race occur, with Scott McLaughlin and Alex Prémat winning the 102-lap race from 13th on the grid.

    Frenchman Prémat put in a strong first stint to insert the #17 car into contention followed by a strategic masterstroke from DJR Team Penske to make an early second pit stop, which saw them exit ahead of the three Triple Eight cars.

    Similarly, in the wet Saturday race strong opening stints from Prodrive teammates Richie Stanaway and Garry Jacobson in their respective cars saw them rocket up the field on a circuit where overtaking is naturally difficult.

    Even in a concrete jungle where is tough to overtake there are still multiple ways to gain plenty of ground, as proved by these drivers.

    Rain master Richie
    In what has been a stellar start to his Supercars career, young Richie Stanaway has proved that he is a master when it comes to wet conditions. The Saturday stint, which yielded a podium for him and Cameron Waters, further cemented that notion.

    The Kiwi’s first race at the 2016 Sandown 500 was a masterclass in the wet. Co-driving the Super Black Racing Ford with Chris Pither, he utilised all the experience gained from his time in the World Endurance Championship with Aston Martin.

    Bathurst saw Stanaway in contention once again, putting Waters in a desirable position come the dying stages of the race only to have their hopes dashed by an incident involving stablemate Mostert.

    After such a quality showing across the Enduro Cup, collecting a maiden series victory at Sandown and another podium on the Gold Coast, it would be a great injustice to not see the young Kiwi on the grid full-time in 2018.

    (Image: AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

    Super sub’s super stint
    Having been drafted in at the 11th hour to replace an injured Ash Walsh for the Bathurst 1000, former full-time driver Andre Heimgartner has delivered the drive of his young career to help secure Tim Slade and Brad Jones Racing a well-deserved podium on the Gold Coast.

    Starting the Saturday race third, Heimgartner leapt into the lead in the treacherous conditions and held a lead close to 20 seconds before handing the #14 Freightliner Commodore back to Slade.

    Ultimately Slade was unable to hold the mighty Prodrive cars behind at the end of the race, but securing a podium was vindication for the Albury squad, which has endured a difficult season to date.

    “What a job by Andre, super-sub,” Slade said on Supercars.com. “He killed it, made everyone else look silly. He did a mega job, and the guys gave us an awesome car today.”

    Having found himself unfortunately out of a drive at the end of 2016 following a dismal year with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, the young Kiwi has found refuge in the Porsche Carrera Cup category, where he’s finished runner-up to David Wall by 20 points.

    Gold Coast’s podium was a timely reminder of the speed that saw Heimgartner representing the all-Kiwi Super Black Racing Team in 2015. Whether it will be enough for the Kiwi to secure an Enduro berth in 2018 remains to be seen.