Scott McLaughlin has added another win to his impressive tally with victory in Race 28 of the Supercars Championship from The Bend.
The Kiwi put in a controlled performance, converting pole position into an early lead before going on to open up a six-tenth margin at the chequered flag over second-place Shane Van Gisbergen.
Pitting later for his second set of boots, Van Gisbergen latched onto the rear wing of McLaughlin in the duel for the lead. But the Red Bull Commodore become mired in the wake of the Mustang and he failed to offer much of an attack as the intelligent defence of McLaughlin was enough to claim the win.
Cam Waters fronted a Tickford 3-4, the Monster Energy Mustang making amends for a turbulent race start which saw him drop from the front row to fourth.
Despite being tipped as encouraging plenty of overtaking and accidents, today’s race was most processional with most drivers circling around the circuit unable to muster any passing manoeuvres.
A bizarre incident punctuated the race on the start as the grid marshal failed to appear to clear the rear of the grid. The field then strolled around for a second formation lap before gridding up for a shortened 31 Lap affair.
The biggest winner from the start was Tickford’s Jack Le Brocq who leapfrogged himself from fourth to second on the dash into Turn 1.
Several drivers opted for the early pitstop, prioritising clean air over the advantage of fresher rubber.
The first of those to blink were Fabian Coulthard, Lee Holdsworth and Le Brocq. Covering off the undercut from the Supercheap Mustang, McLaughlin was whistled into the lane one tour later.
The sister Tickford of Waters extended his opening stint, and when Le Brocq experienced a temporary airbox fire, was able to jump ahead of his teammate for provisional third.
The last of the front runners to stop was Van Gisbergen. The Kiwi waited until Lap 16 before cycling the lane, and when he re-joined, he found himself in second and just behind McLaughlin.
The new tyre benefit seemed to give Van Gisbergen the upper hand, and he narrowed the margin to McLaughlin to under a second. Faster over the opening portion of his final stint, Van Gisbergen’s pace ultimately plateaued to that of McLaughlin and he followed his Kiwi compatriot home for his ninth podium of 2020.
Waters led Le Brocq home to round out the podium with Anton De Pasquale the having a muted yet strong outing to finish fifth.
Coulthard was the last Kiwi in the top-10; the second DJR Penske Mustang climbing to ninth from 15th on the grid.
Championship wise, McLaughlin now enjoys a 263-point buffer over Jamie Whincup who could only manage a tenth-placed finish today. Should McLaughlin outscore his rival by 37 points tomorrow, then the Kiwi will secure his third successive Supercars crown before the season finale.
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Jack Le Brocq
|Anton De Pasquale