Scott McLaughlin has gone lights to flag at Sydney Motorsport Park to clinch career victory number 46 after withstanding some late-race pressure by a rapid Lee Holdsworth.
Holdsworth snared his best race result since Winton 2014 by charging to second at the line, benefitting from the yield of his fresher tyres to briskly drive from outside the Top 10 after his stop to finish 1.5s behind a triumphant McLaughlin.
Jamie Whincup would cruise home a further 10 seconds adrift to make it a hat-trick of podiums for the weekend and keep his championship challenge truly alive.
Once again tyre degradation was the name of the race and several drivers utilised a fresh set and the end of the race to charge through the field.
But no one could challenge McLaughlin who blitzed the field in the opening few laps and was able to maintain the lead after his sole pitstop to claim his second victory for the weekend and extend his championship points lead to 49.
A sluggish initial getaway off the line by the race victor saw Whincup jump ahead of his rival into turn one but the championship leader got his elbows out and regained control of the race at the hairpin.
Van Gisbergen slotted in behind his teammate while Cam Waters made a strong start to power the Monster Energy Mustang into fourth as the field made its way towards turn 3.
Though a feisty Todd Hazelwood, who had qualified a surprising fifth earlier in the day, would demote Waters to fourth after a swift lunge up the inside of the Mustang at Turn 6. The BJR Commodore then locked his sights on Van Gisbergen, hunting down the Red Bull before making his move at Turn 4 a handful of laps later.
The race leader had established a healthy five-second margin to Whincup as teams began to ponder on possible strategies with the pitstop window approaching.
Whincup would be the first of the leading duo to pit and emerge ahead of a hard-charging David Reynolds. The Penrite Racing Commodore was one of the first drivers to transit the pitlane and had made the most out of his subsequent clean air to narrow the gap to the leaders.
Whincup’s stop compelled McLaughlin to respond which the kiwi duly did one lap later and he would re-join the race back ahead of Whincup with a comfortable margin to toy with.
Lee Holdsworth was the last of the field to pit. The Truck Assist Tickford Mustang had managed to save two reasonably green sets to tyres to use for the final race.
As McLaughlin continued to extend his margin, the early stop by Reynolds meant he came under immense pressure by Mark Winterbottom who had played his cards well and sat fourth on the road. Van Gisbergen, Waters and the day’s earlier race winner Nick Percat sat lurking less than one second back.
Having emerged in 12th, a rapid Holdsworth swiftly manoeuvred around teammate Waters and by lap 22 was sat in sixth.
Sharp overtakes on Van Gisbergen and Reynolds saw the 37-year-old elevate himself onto the rostrum before executing an easy move on Whincup at Turn 2 on the 25th tour.
With six laps remaining the advantage between the McLaughlin and Holdsworth was 4.4 seconds while further back Waters, who was forced to don worn tyres for his final stint, relinquished eighth to Percat in a grimy bump-and-run move at Turn 2.
Anton de Pasquale was another beneficiary of fresh tyres and scythed his way from 17th after his sole pitstop to finish seventh at the chequered flag.
Fabian Coulthard’s woeful weekend concluded on a sour note when his Mustang came to a halt on the final lap at Turn 8. The kiwi would fortunately be classified, albeit down in last.
The next round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will be staged from Winton on July 18-19.
|6||Shane van Gisbergen||50:46.7851|
|7||Anton De Pasquale||50:47.2175|
|11||Jack Le Brocq||50:52.1268|