AFL’s night grand final a ratings winner


Richmond triple-premiership star Jack Riewoldt is among a host of high-profile AFL figures giving the thumbs down to the late grand final time slot, despite it proving to be a television ratings winner.

Host broadcaster Seven reported an average national audience of 3.812 million, which it said was 30 per cent up on last year and the biggest grand final audience since 2016.

It came after AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan finally got his wish to see a season decider played under lights, with the traditional 2.30pm time slot pushed back to 7.30pm AEDT.

The decision was cause for heated debate amongst football supporters after being announced in September, and the future of the start time is yet to be determined.

“I probably would prefer a day grand final, to be honest,” Riewoldt said after the match.

“In saying that though, the conditions were s***house during the day today, so we didn’t mind playing at night later on.

“It’s a completely different spectacle, and great that I’ve experienced both, but I’m really not fussed too much.”

The Gabba produced a spectacular setting at night, with a lighting show and fireworks part of the pre-match and halftime entertainment as well as the post-match celebrations.

But Riewoldt said the traditional afternoon slot was preferable because players and fans did not have to wait as long for the action to get underway.

He joked that many supporters were “half-cut” by the time they arrived at the Gabba for the bounce down at 6.30pm local time.

“The game’s growing and evolving and this year’s obviously been a different one, but we’ve been able to trial some stuff going forward,” Riewoldt said.

“Whilst it’s been financially difficult for the AFL I think there’s some really positive lessons that have been learnt over the last six months.”

Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale thought the night time slot was “pretty good”, pointing to the television ratings as a key factor to be considered in future decisions around the grand final start time.

“It felt like a grand final,” Gale said.

“As a code we have a responsibility to take the game to as many eyeballs as possible and, gee, there would have been a lot watching tonight at three-quarter time.

“But at the end of the day they could play at 6am, I don’t care.”

Collingwood’s 1990 premiership captain Tony Shaw is one of many traditionalists who are not supportive of the late start.

“It doesn’t gel with me,” Shaw said on 3AW radio.

“This day should come to an end early so we can then all celebrate.

“Finishing the game at 10.30(pm) – I wouldn’t want to do it as a player.”





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Norm Smith Medal winner Dustin Martin reflects on Richmond Tigers’ premiership, says Gary Ablett is the GOAT


Martin said of his achievement of becoming the first player to win three Norm Smith Medals: “I don’t know what it means to me at the moment. There’s no way I would be able to do it without my teammates, we’re an unbelievable team, it’s not a one-man job, we all do our part and I’m just incredibly grateful to be a member of the team.”

Martin, who was the unanimous choice of the Norm Smith Medal judges as best afield, said becoming a three-time premiership player was “the cool one” rather than the Norm Smith Medals.

“Yeah, that’s the cool one right there. As Dimma just said, the adversity we faced this year, yeah I still can’t believe it – it’s very special and a very special club.”

Martin said the Tigers had started to look like themselves again late in the second quarter, after the Cats had been in control.

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“They got off to a good start, but as Dimma said that last five minutes to go in the second quarter, it started to look like Richmond again – credit to the boys we took that into the second half and stuck to the process, couldn’t be prouder.”

Martin acknowledged there had been peaks and troughs in Richmond’s time in the Gold Coast hub this season: “It’s had its ups and downs but we’re an incredible club and we love being around each other and we got through really well and yeah, it’s something we’ll look back at the rest of our lives and say ‘wow it’s really cool.'”

Hardwick observed that Martin’s goals had been really important, with his first coming when the Tigers “couldn’t buy one” in the second quarter.

“Yeah, it was an important goal … we just needed a goal – couldn’t buy one.

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“That’s what great players do – they take their opportunies and get the job done. That’s why he sits here with his third Norm Smith really.”

Martin was jocular when asked if he had imminent tattoo plans. “I haven’t got any yet, but George [Jason Castagna] brought his tattoo gun up so I daresay he’ll be getting that out tomorrow.”

Otherwise, the triple Norm Smith medallist suggested he would celebrate with teammates at the hub venue before remaining in Queensland for a time.

“Enjoy it together as a club back at the resort we’re at tonight, tomorrow. And then might stick around here for a little bit and see what happens.” Would he catch Serena Williams again? “Not this year.”

Martin, 29, who joined the Tigers at the same post-season when Hardwick was appointed, 2009, described his coach as like a second father to him.

“The care that he’s got for his players, ever since we started together 10 years ago, you know he’s almost like a second father to a lot of us – he’s a friend first, and then a coach second. I couldn’t be more grateful, you know, he’s helped me become a better person and along with all the other boys as well.”

Martin also had generous words for retired champion Gary Ablett.

Retiring star Gary Ablett is the GOAT, according to Martin.Credit:Getty Images

“He’s the GOAT, isn’t he. He’s had an incredible career, yeah, he’s an amazing player, an amazing person. It was a pleasure to play against him tonight and I wish him all the best.”

Sitting alongside his coach, Martin jested that he would return for pre-season training in February. “That’s just who we are as a group, we’re humble and we’re hungry. Success is awesome and enjoy this one and we’ll be looking to forward to pre-season again – in February.”

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Cox Plate 2020 form guide: Tips, odds, predictions, winner, betting, field, start time, favourite


Australia’s premier weight-for-age contest is upon us, with a field of 14 set to face the starter at Saturday’s Cox Plate

The forecast in Melbourne — three to 10mm of rain on Friday and 10 to 20mm on Saturday — suggests we’ll see racing on a rain-affected track. The exact rating is always hard to predict but I’ve worked to a Soft 6.

The main event is Race 9 at Moonee Valley, which is scheduled to be run at 4.15pm AEDT.

ANALYSIS

1. KOLDING

This Waller gelding was an absolute revelation last spring, winning the G1 Epsom (1600m) and the Golden Eagle (1500m) in Sydney. He was a completely different horse through the autumn though, failing to place in five runs. Many thought his best was behind him coming into this campaign but Waller has him firing again, coming into this race off back-to-back wins in the G1 George Main Stakes (1600m) and the G2 Hill Stakes (2000m). The horse he beat in the Hill Stakes, Avilius, was good without luck in the Caulfield Cup (2400m) last week. This will be his first run at The Valley and just his third in Melbourne (unplaced in the other two).

TAB odds — Win: $12, place: $3.50

2. HUMIDOR

The rejuvenated veteran was a controversial omission (or non-selection) from this race last year, following a 0.4L 2nd to Winx in 2017 — his career-best run — and a 4.75L 3rd in 2018. He was getting well-beaten in G3 races in Perth earlier this year and retirement seemingly loomed large but Waller has completely turned his form around. The 8YO was a shock winner of the G2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) here three-back, before splitting Russian Camelot and Arcadia Queen in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) last start. Those two horses held him comfortably last time but doubt the slow tempo helped his cause. Barrier 14 makes things tricky.

Win: $21, place: $5

3. FIERCE IMPACT

This ultra-consistent entire knocked off Russian Camelot to win the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington two-back. He then returned to Sydney and finished 2.2L off Kolding as a $2.30F in the G2 Hill Stakes (2000m). He clocked similar closing sectionals to the winner there but just had too much to do from the back (probably settled further back than expected). The rain won’t hurt his chances given he won the G1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) on a Soft 7 last spring, but the barrier (12) stings a little. Others boast stronger 2000m credentials, but he’s just so genuine.

Win: $34, place: $8

4. MASTER OF WINE

The Hawkes gelding is on the quick back-up here after finishing 10th in last Saturday’s G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), beaten by 4.6L. He was ridden against his usual pattern there, settling outside of the leader, but was still pretty disappointing. He’s yet to place in four runs this spring, with a 0.8L 5th to Verry Elleegant in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) his best effort. A repeat of that would give him an outside hope of placing, but he needs to find lengths on his most recent effort.

Win: $34, place: $8

5. MUGATOO

Saved from the Caulfield Cup for this, Mugatoo was last seen finishing a head off Mirage Dancer in the G1 Metropolitan (2400m) last start. The winner there was a total forgive job in the Caulfield Cup, so it’s not exactly easy to get a read on that form. The likelihood of a rain-affected track helps Mugatoo, who is 4 from 7 on soft tracks, but he’s still yet to prove himself at WFA level. The progressive gelding was beaten 9.1L behind Verry Elleegant in the G1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) last autumn — which was his first big test at this level.

Win: $26, place: $6

6. ASPETAR

Aspetar doesn’t have the gate speed to take advantage of barrier three, with Lane likely to settle him in the last three or four. He was a G2 winner over this distance last start, following a close-up 2nd at Sandown when seemingly every chance. The last time he travelled outside of the UK, he was beaten 14.5L in the G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin. He did however win the G1 Preis Von Europa (2400m) in Germany prior to that. His racing style doesn’t exactly look ideal for 2040m around The Valley, even though his record at this trip reads well on paper (4:2-1-1).

Win: $16, place: $4.40

7. SIR DRAGONET

Sir Dragonet looked no hope on a dry track, but the rain definitely increases his chances. The son of Camelot, now with Maher and Eustace, finished 2nd to Magical at G1 level over this trip last start, which obviously reads nicely for this. Prior to that he was rolled by Buckhurst as a $1.90F, but that was on a good-rated track where he is 3:0-1-0. So far in his 9-start career, he’s been beaten at $1.90, $2.90, $1.55, $3.75, $1.45 and $3.75 — so punters have rated him much higher than what he’s actually produced so far (a maiden win and a G3 win beating Norway and Dashing Willoughby).

Win: $13, place: $3.70

8. MAGIC WAND (scratched)

9. ARCADIA QUEEN

The West Australian mare was back to her brilliant best last start, beating Russian Camelot by 1.25L in the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). The bar plates came off there and they remain off here, which is obviously a great sign that her feet are in much better condition than they were at the start of the spring. The way the race was run last start suited her, sitting back in a small field before letting rip with a sharp turn-of-foot. You would imagine this event will be run at a more genuine tempo, with the 3YO running along in front, and the threat of rain is a negative. You couldn’t possibly rule her out on what she showed at Caulfield last start though.

Win: $5.50, place: $2.10

10. NETTOYER

The popular pizza-eating mare put in an improved effort last start, finishing 2nd in the G3 Craven Plate (2000m). This is a significant step up from that though and you couldn’t possibly have her based on what she’s done since winning the G1 Doncaster (1600m) at big odds.

Win: $81, place: $17

11. RUSSIAN CAMELOT

The big “Russian” had his colours lowered last start, finishing 1.25L off Arcadia Queen as a $1.40F in the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m). However, the sit-and-sprint nature of that race didn’t really suit, and you could argue Pike on Arcadia Queen caught Oliver by surprise a little bit in the straight. Hopefully, for Russian Camelot’s sake, they really stretch out in this and he can build through his gears and have a full head of steam rounding the tight final bend. Maybe he needs a bit further than 2040m now, but the likelihood of a wet track is a big plus given what we saw in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) on a Soft 6 two-back. Barrier 15 doesn’t look great, but you’d rather see him outside of runners than searching for runs on the inside.

Win: $4.60, place: $1.90

12. ARMORY

Armory looks the pick of the internationals, coming off a 3rd behind Magical and Ghaiyyath in the G1 Irish Champion over this trip last start. He was $67 there, so maybe it was a spike run, but that effort looks good enough to give this a real shake. A genuinely wet track would have to be some query though given Sir Dragonet beat him quite comfortably with more weight when they clashed over this distance three-back. He’s been a dominant winner over much shorter trips than this, so he certainly possesses a decent turn-of-foot. Melham should put him in the right spot from barrier six.

Win: $6, place: $2.20

13. PROBABEEL

The Kiwi mare is just a model of consistency, finishing in the top two in 14 of her 18 career starts. She was dominant winning the G3 Ritchie Handicap (1400m) two-back, before overcoming a wide run to take out the G1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) in comfortable fashion. That was a sensational win and although 2000m remains a bit of a query — especially a fast-run 2000m — she does map for a pretty economical run from barrier two. She doesn’t want it really wet, but a soft deck is no issue at all. McEvoy has ridden her seven times and never finished worse than 2nd. Her stablemate Te Akau Shark came off a similar set-up to run 3rd in this event last year.

Win: $8.50, place: $2.80

14. GRANDSLAM

The lone 3YO in the field, carrying just 49.5kg, finished 3rd in the G1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) last start but was well-held. He started $61 in that but is just $21 in this much harder race. Prior to the Guineas, the Maher and Eustace colt was beaten in a BM64 at Flemington after sitting outside of the leader. He’ll likely lead in this, and run along at a decent clip, but it’s hard to see him not getting the staggers in the straight. The early price ($21) looks serious unders.

Win: $19, place: $5

15e. BUCKHURST

The 1st emergency was well-held in the G1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) last Saturday and looks tested if he does gain a run here. A wet track would be a real negative, given Sir Dragonet finished 4.45L in front of him on a soft deck three-back.

Win: $41, place: $9

VERDICT

11. Russian Camelot

13. Probabeel

9. Arcadia Queen

12. Armory

$100 BETTING STRATEGY

$75 on Russian Camelot (11) @ $4.60

$25 on Probabeel (13) @ $8.50

This article first appeared on punters.com.au and was reproduced with permission



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Lexus LC500 review: Old school V8 is a winner


The new LC500 Convertible isn’t your average Lexus.

It’s the most expensive, exclusive and seductive car built by the brand. As with many great cars, it’s also something of a throwback.

Evocative proportions and arresting design elements are lifted directly from the Lexus LF-LC concept car that stopped traffic at the Sydney motor show eight years ago — the last time a proper motor show was held on local soil.

The teardrop headlights, infinity-mirror tail-lamps and shapely silhouette are pure concept-car theatre.

media_cameraThe LC’s bold styling goes against Lexus’ usual conservative approach.

Power comes from a classic free-breathing V8 mounted up front, driving the rear wheels through a conventional automatic transmission as opposed to the dual-clutch units favoured by some rivals. The seats are trimmed in rich leather in a lavish cabin that combines decadent, flawlessly-finished materials with a modern take on conventional dials.

A tricky touchpad for the infotainment unit afflicting just about every model in the Lexus showroom is the only flaw in the interior.

An old school V8 oozes charm … and grunt.
media_cameraAn old school V8 oozes charm … and grunt.

Priced from about $228,000 drive-away, the LC500 Convertible certainly isn’t cheap.

But it undercuts the equivalent Porsche 911 by about $100,000 and starts to look like strong value when standard equipment is taken into account because there are no options.

It has top-grade paint and leather, a full suite of driver aids and forged 21-inch wheels as standard. You don’t pay extra for a bimodal sports exhaust, limited-slip differential or multi-mode suspension.

The brilliant Mark Levinson stereo, LED headlights and powered memory seats with heating and cooling are all included, as is a heated steering wheel, neck warmer, parking sensors and reversing camera. That is refreshing, as most European sports cars charge outrageous sums for many of those features.

The interior is plush.
media_cameraThe interior is plush.

The best bit is that the Lexus gives away little in terms of drama.

The 5.0-litre V8 fires to life with a hearty flare before settling into a melodious idle.

Packing 351kW of power and 540Nm of torque, the roadster’s sub-five-second 0-100km/h time and 12.7L/100km fuel economy aren’t particularly impressive. But the LC500 sounds positively operatic when let loose, its Yamaha-tuned motor singing with a free-breathing voice rarely heard these days.

Lexus didn’t bother adapting its unloved LC500h hybrid driveline for the convertible. Its slower, flat-sounding V6 and overcomplicated gearbox weren’t worthy of the top-down treatment. A facelifted model bringing turbo performance in the near future should be quicker and less sonorous in equal measure.

Putting the top down gives you a front row seat to the impressive V8 soundtrack.
media_cameraPutting the top down gives you a front row seat to the impressive V8 soundtrack.

For now, this V8 truly does sound sensational. And the 15 seconds needed to lower the roof pays dividends with open access to its eight-cylinder symphony.

Forgive the 48 litres of lost boot space, the extra 100 kilos of weight or the circa-$20,000 premium over the coupe. The soundtrack is worth it.

Better still, a crisp 10-speed auto delivers a delicious crack from the exhaust pipes when plucking the next gear, or enthusiastic bursts of throttle when dropping a ratio.

Weighty steering lends confidence when tipping into corners, and clever multi-mode suspension does a great job masking the car’s doubleton mass. The LC500’s composed ride and reassuring reactions are more suited to a weekend away with someone special than a qualifying lap of a Grand Prix circuit.

The LC isn’t a track day weapon, but a throughly enjoyable luxury cruiser.
media_cameraThe LC isn’t a track day weapon, but a throughly enjoyable luxury cruiser.

It’s not the sort of sports car that makes you set an alarm for zero-dark-thirty to set off in pursuit of superbikes. But it is the sort of machine to make you savour the long way home. The LC500 is also more playful than you might expect, occasionally wagging its tail under power, even with the traction control in its most sensible setting. It’s hard to drive it without a smile.

VERDICT 4/5

Lexus is too demure to describe its flagship as Japan’s answer to Aston Martin or Maserati, but we’re happy to say it. The LC500 is a rare gem.

LEXUS LC 500 CONVERTIBLE VITALS

Price: About $228,000 drive-away

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 351kW/540Nm

Warranty/servicing: 4-year/100,000km, $2380 for 4 years

Safety: Not rated, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise, lane-keep assist, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert

Thirst: 12.7L/100km

Cargo: 149L

Spare: Repair kit

Originally published as Tested: Lexus’ answer to Aston Martin



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Victoria Derby Day 2019: winner, results, video, every result, Melbourne Cup field


Trainer Anthony Freedman and jockey Damien Oliver have turned back the clock to claim a Victoria Derby triumph at Flemington with Warning.

For Freedman, it was his first Victoria Derby (2500m) win as a trainer in his own right.

Oliver is celebrating his sixth, 27 years after his first aboard Redding. Oliver has had a long and successful association with the Freedman family who were instrumental in first luring him to Melbourne from Perth. Freedman said his history with Oliver gave Warning’s victory added significance.

“We go back 25 years. I actually went to Perth to meet him and talk to him about coming over,” Freedman said.

“We go back a long way and it’s good to hook up again.”



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Dally M 2020: Daily Telegraph leaks winner, Jack Wighton, Nathan Cleary, full ladder, results


About 6.30pm on Monday the Telegraph published a story online from Phil Rothfield at the top of its website with the headline “Dally M drama: System needs an urgent overhaul”. The final vote ladder, which showed Wighton on top with 26 votes, was also published before being quickly taken down — but not before it was picked up and shared on social media.

Rothfield took to Twitter to apologise, describing it as a “production error”.

“Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight,” he tweeted. “We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”

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Dally M Medal 2020: Dally M winner Jack Wighton, full votes, Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Nathan Cleary, Clint Gutherson


Canberra star Jack Wighton has won the 2020 Dally M Medal, pipping Clint Gutherson and Nathan Cleary in a shock result and a thrilling vote count.

Wighton polled 26 votes, one ahead of Gutherson and two ahead of Cleary.

Wighton is the first Raiders player to win it since Laurie Daley in 1995.

It caps a stunning two years for the 27-year-old who was moved from fullback to five-eighth at the start of 2019, and then won the Clive Churchill Medal in last year’s grand final.

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Wighton wins the Dally M

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Lachie Neale crowned 2020 Brownlow Medal winner


Brisbane midfielder Lachie Neale has been crowned the 2020 Brownlow medalist, winning the award by 10 votes.

In what was a runaway victory, Neale finished ahead of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak and Melbourne’s Christian Petracca.

Due to COVID-19, there was no red carpet nor the lavish ceremony at Crown which is usually associated with one of the game’s most prestigious nights.

Rather, this year’s count was held virtually, with players scattered around the country taking part via video link.

Neale becomes Brisbane’s first Brownlow Medal winner since Simon Black took out the award in 2002, while he’s the club third different winner of the award.

The 27-year-old played every game for the Lions this year, averaging just under 27 touches and four marks.

Neale had 24 disposals, five marks and three tackles and two goals in Brisbane’s 40-point Preliminary Final loss to Geelong on Saturday night.

Izak Rankine earned a Brownlow vote on debut for Gold Coast in Round 6, while Matt Rowell notched up nine votes in four rounds before his season-ending shoulder injury.

In other awards given out on Sunday night, Sam Walsh won Mark of the Year while Josh Daicos won Goal of the Year for his effort against Sydney in Round 10.

Richmond’s Bachar Houli won the year’s Jim Stynes Community Leadership Award.

See the top 10 in the Brownlow below:

  1. Lachie Neale (Brisbane) – 31 votes

  2. Travis Boak (Port Adelaide) – 21 votes

  3. Christian Petracca (Melbourne) – 20 votes

  4. Jack Steele (St Kilda) – 20 votes

  5. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) – 15 votes

  6. Dustin Martin (Richmond) – 15 votes

  7. Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs) – 15 votes

  8. Luke Parker (Sydney) – 15 votes

  9. Cameron Guthrie (Geelong) 14 votes

  10. Clayton Oliver (Melbourne) 14 votes








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Holden’s last Supercars race a winner


A famous 52-year old war has ended in a fairy tale finish for Holden with the Australian V8 legend claiming a final win over Ford.

In a fitting farewell for the brand that helped turn a regional race held on the side of a sheep paddock into Australia’s very own Monaco, Holden claimed its 34th and final Bathurst crown on an emotional day on the mountain.

A legend that began in 1968 when a car called the Monaro beat down a Falcon, Holden floored Ford in a thrilling final fight that went down to the last lap to leave the sport.

Dead and buried as a car company but a Bathurst legend that will never be lost, Shane van Gisbergen waved the famous red-flag for one final time on an emotional victory lap after beating new Mustang main man Cameron Waters in a one-on-one war.

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Triple Eight Race Engineering owner Rolland Dane held back tears after his team ended Holden’s official involvement in the sport with a famous win.

Shane van Gisbergen prevailed after a lengthy duel with Cameron Waters at Bathurst.

The Commodore will be on track without official support next year before being replaced by the Camaro in 2021.

“It was an awesome job by all these guys and I really wanted to acknowledge the end of an era with Holden,” Dane said.

“We are leaving them with a tinge of sadness but also looking forward to the future. We have great plans which everyone has seen and hopefully we will be back here in a couple of years with the most exciting cars Bathurst has ever seen. But it is farewell to Holden as a new car brand in Australia and we have had some great memories. We are really sorry that we can’t share this win today with all those fans that would usually be here because of COIVD.

Holden hero Garth Tander also paid tribute to the Aussie institution after claiming his fourth Bathurst crown in a Commodore.

Tander follows in the footsteps of the great Peter Brock who won nine Bathurst titles for Holden during a partnership that rivalled Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

“It is really special for us to win this as Holden’s last official factory team,” Tander said.

“We get to stand on the top step of a place that means so much to Holden. It is really, really cool.”

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CHAMP’S MISSED CHANCE TO SILENCE CRITICS

– Rebecca Williams

Scott McLaughlin declared he is satisfied he has achieved everything he wanted to in Supercars, despite missing the podium and the chance to silence his critics over last year’s controversial Bathurst win at Mount Panorama on Sunday.

After what is expected to be his last full-time race as a Supercars driver ahead of a move to IndyCars the United States, McLaughlin was officially crowned champion for the third straight year before giving the strongest indication yet it was his last campaign.

McLaughlin had to settle for fifth place at Mount Panorama on Sunday as his Holden rival Shane van Gisbergen sealed his maiden Bathurst crown.

As he prepares to head off to the United States on Monday ahead of his IndyCar debut at St Petersburg next week, the DJR Team Penske star said he was satisfied he had done everything he had wanted to in Supercars.

“I have done everything I have wanted to achieve regardless of how St Pete goes,” McLaughlin said.

“I know right now I have got to grab this opportunity with both hands. It’s not an audition I would say … but I can’t be a gumby, I’ve got to go out there and drive the thing as fast as I can and acquaint myself as best as I can.

“I said I wanted to win a Bathurst, a championship and be a consistent front-runner (in this series). I really want to move up that leaderboard with wins and poles and really proud of all that.

“If it is (my last full-time race) I am completely satisfied.”

McLaughlin’s maiden Bathurst 1000 victory was shrouded in controversy last year with one rival team boss saying it remained “tainted” in the lead-up to this weekend’s race.

DJR Team Penske was slapped with a record-breaking $250,000 fine and stripped of 300 team points for issuing an illegal team order to McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard.

The team was then handed another bombshell penalty after stewards found the team guilty of an engine breach at Mount Panorama. McLaughlin was stripped of his qualifying and top-10 shootout win from Bathurst, while the team was hit with another $30,000 fine.

Despite missing the chance to erase last year’s controversy with a podium on Sunday, McLaughlin said his third championship win was his “proudest”.

He celebrated the championship by burning rubber around the Mount Panorama circuit.

“To wrap the teams championship up along with the drivers championship is fantastic and was our goal that we had coming into it,” McLaughlin said.

“It was made a bit easier with Triple Eight’s little moment at the top of the hill, but I’m really proud. It’s been tough for everyone … It’s one of my proudest championships.

“I’m proud of everyone at Shell V Power Racing, it’s been an awesome year and it’s been hard for a lot of teams including ours and I’m just proud to bring home the bacon.”

McLaughlin will line up for Team Penske at the IndyCar season finale at St Petersburg in Florida on October 25.

He finished the year 451 points ahead of Tickford Racing’s Waters in the 2020 championship battle, completing a dominant year with 13 race wins – nine ahead of Jamie Whincup – and 15 pole positions.

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The Great Race’s first winner Frank Coad remembers a rough, hand-laid track, and a car that dealt with it


The Bathurst 1000 is arguably Australia’s most famous race, the equivalent of the footy grand final for rev heads.

The smell of high octane fuel, burning rubber, and the sound of the supercars screaming past continues to draw thousands of spectators back to the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Victoria, every year.

But the epic supercar race Australians have come to know and love looked very different when the first cars crossed the start line back in 1960.

For the first two years, not only did the race have a different name, but it was held in a different state.

Frank Coad and his co-driver John Roxburgh were the first winners of The Great Race, then named the Armstrong 500 and held on Phillip Island in Victoria.

While Mr Roxburgh sadly passed in 1993, Mr Coad is 90 years old and living in a retirement home in Bendigo, Victoria, with his wife Zena.

1960 Armstrong 500 winner Frank Coad with his two daughters Susan Owen, left, and Julie Tyrrell.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Preparation was key

He remembers the race as clearly now as it happened, 60 years ago.

“We felt pretty confident,” he said.

“John Roxburgh was my co-driver, he started off the race, he did 40 something laps, then I took over and did 40 odd laps, then he took over another 40, then I finished off the race.

“A fortnight beforehand we’d done a full 500 mile under race conditions.”

The car they won the race in was a Vauxhall Cresta, a six-cylinder sedan.

It certainly was not the race favourite.

But as Mr Coad will attest, it was all about preparation.

“We’d put in about three or four months of work getting ready for it,” he said.

“We had the car so finely tuned.”

He said the car clocked 98 miles an hour at race day, the equivalent of about 157kph.

“We had it sewn up pretty much after the first pit stop,” he said.

A black and white photo of the Vauxhall Cresta during the race at the 1960 Armstrong 500.
Frank Coad’s Vauxhall Cresta at Phillip Island during the 1960 Armstrong 500.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said the drivers, brothers David and John Youl, brought the car over from Tasmania and did not know enough about the Phillip Island grand prix circuit — hand-laid using buckets of cold mix bitumen.

“We’d done all our preparation, we knew how far we could go on our front tyres without any troubles, and they didn’t.

“They went through the first pit stop and they carried on with the original tyres hoping they’d get another run out of them.

“But it didn’t happen.

“A tyre blew, they turned it over and wrecked it.”

The rough track was the reason the race was moved, as the bridge access to Phillip Island made it difficult to get the right equipment in to fix it.

Five men stand in front of cars.
Phillip Island legends Craig Lowndes, Peter Brock, Frank Coad, Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife meet in 2002.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

Mr Coad said he tuned in to watch Bathurst every year, but it was not the same race he remembered.

“That disappeared by about 1964.

“It’s all changed, it has done over the years — as everything does.”

Racing was ‘bad business’

Mr Coad said General Motors, the parent company of the Vauxhall brand, considered racing “bad business” and didn’t want the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership to be involved in the race.

“They weren’t into motor racing in those days,” he said.

A man and a woman stand wearing sunglasses in front of a car in a black and white photo from the 1960s
Frank Coad said his wife Zena Coad was a great supporter of his career and a fantastic passenger.(Supplied: Susan Owen)

He said when the Melbourne Vauxhall dealership opened after the race, the demand for the Cresta model went through the roof.

“They didn’t want to buy a Velox, they wanted to buy a Cresta and they couldn’t get enough Crestas to sell,” Mr Coad said.

He said the prize money for first place was a far cry from the amount the Bathurst 1000 winner would take home today.

“I was married with three little children. My wife was nursing a six-week-old baby when I won it,” he said.

Reviving history

Mr Coad’s daughter Susan Owen lives in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in WA’s Goldfields region.

She reached out to the ABC after hearing an off-the-cuff comment about the upcoming Bathurst 1000 race on local radio.

Ms Owen said she wanted Australia to hear her father’s story.

“A lot of people don’t know The Great Race started in Phillip Island and that’s the sad part, I suppose,” she said.

Since being stuck in lockdown, Mr Coad has not been able to get behind the wheel, but he still loves to drive.

“I drive around in a 1995 Holden ute today, but it’s done 430,000 kilometres,” he said.

He said he had always driven fast, and racing is in his blood.

He said there was only one thing holding him back.

“There’s too many police around,” he said.

Watch Brock: Over The Top at 8:30pm on Tuesday, November 3, on ABC TV+iview



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