Scott McLaughlin has completed a Townsville Supercars weekend of rebounds with a victory in the final race of the weekend — edging Cameron Waters after a race-long battle between the pairing.
The result helps McLaughlin claim back championship points from Jamie Whincup. Having gnawed away a few points from McLaughlin via his race 19 and race 20 wins, Whincup finished the Townsville finale in third.
The race started in excitable fashion, with Brad Jones Racing’s two leading drivers making bold moves in turns one and two — Nick Percat leaping over Waters for second and Todd Hazelwood dive-bombing from a long way back to reclaim positions after a poor start.
Percat didn’t last long in second, as Waters got him back on lap two. McLaughlin relished the battling behind, having built a buffer. Perhaps surprisingly though, the gap started shrinking. The pairing shadowed each other for most of the opening stint, with the gap hovering between half a second and a second.
Anton De Pasquale was the first of the front-runners to stop, doing so on lap 15. Percat and David Reynolds did the same a lap later. Waters and McLaughlin stopped on laps 17 and 18 respectively, with McLaughlin hanging on to the corrected lead by a few car lengths.
An energetic exchanged followed. McLaughlin’s tyres were among the best conditioned in the field, but Waters was very threatening — making numerous fakes and half-dives on the points leader as they navigated traffic. By the time they had cycled through into first and second, the gap to Whincup in third was almost 10 seconds.
Percat, De Pasquale, Hazelwood, Reynolds, and Scott Pye were in tow. Vacant from the lead pack was Chaz Mostert — issues with his right-rear led to a second pit-stop. Pye was the quickest of the group, getting by Hazelwood and both Erebus Motorsport drivers by lap 31 to be sixth.
Waters’ push on McLaughlin gradually faded as the final laps approached. With five laps to go, the margin was up to over two seconds. The Monster Energy driver was unable to make up the difference in the end, as McLaughlin took win number nine for 2020.
It was a lonely finish in the end for Waters, Whincup, and Percat too — each crossing the line in relative loneliness. Pye was slowly reeling in Hazelwood for fifth, but ran out of time. De Pasquale was seventh, and then came a tight battle for eighth between Lee Holdsworth, Shane van Gisbergen, and Reynolds.
After a relatively quiet race, van Gisbergen stormed to the chequered flag on sharper tyres relative to those at the bottom end of the top 10. And on the penultimate lap he was able to get by Holdsworth. The rapidly fading Reynolds then lost 10th on the last lap to Mark Winterbottom.
|Anton De Pasquale
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Jack Le Brocq