Scott McLaughlin has edged closer to the 2020 Supercars championship crown, after winning the second race of the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend, his prime title rival Jamie Whincup only managing to finish seventh after a poor pit-stop marred his race. McLaughlin now leads the championship by 299 points, just one point away from having an ‘insurmountable’ points lead heading into the series finale.
It was a raced of mixed fortunes for the DJR Team Penske squad. It looked set for a 1–2 finish, only for a mechanical failure to deny Fabian Coulthard. Anton De Pasquale and Cameron Waters rounded out the podium finishers, while Shane van Gisbergen was able to climb from 15th to fifth.
Coulthard got the best start, stealing the lead from McLaughlin off the start. The points leader was lucky to stay in front of Whincup, as Cameron Waters and Anton de Pasquale followed the train.
It was a physical opening phase further down the field, with Shane van Gisbergen plodding through the pack outside the top 10, Lee Holdsworth retiring with damage, an awkward moment at turn one seeing Todd Hazelwood nudging Rick Kelly into Mark Winterbottom, and Jack Le Brocq spinning following contact from Fullwood (the latter getting handed a 15-second penalty).
Coulthard and Waters were the first leaders to stop on lap nine. McLaughlin stopped on lap 12, resuming the race ahead of the Coulthard, de Pasquale, and Waters cluster. Whincup then stopped on lap 14 for a problematic stop, long in length after Whincup’s car caught the right-hand size rattle gun.
Once everyone had pitted, the cleansed order was McLaughlin, Coulthard, De Pasquale, Waters, Courtney, Nick Percat, and Whincup in seventh. The race looked set to sink into a rhyhtm, only for the weekend’s first safety to compress the field. Coulthard’s Mustang had stopped from second with an apparent transaxle failure, while Dave Reynolds had also suffered a failure.
This was bad news for McLaughin in the lead, but possibly worse news for De Pasquale behind who had been one of the earliest stoppers. Courtney, Percat, and Whincup meanwhile had better tyre condition in fourth to sixth, and van Gisbergen was one of the last drivers to stop in ninth.
The race restarted with six laps remaining, and predictably van Gisbergen was aggressive. The top four appeared comfortable, with the rain to watch being Percat in fifth to van Gisbergen in eighth. The Kiwi wasn’t eighth for long, getting by Mostert and then curiously grabbing Whincup with four laps to go — denying the No. 88 championship points in his battle with McLaughlin.
Despite the safety car scare, McLaughlin and De Pasquale were able to hold on in first and second place, and for the second day in a row Waters would complete the podium. Van Gisbergen looked on to steal fourth from Courtney on the last lap, only for the 2010 series champ to fend him off neatly in the last two corners.
Percat, Whincup, Mostert, Rick Kelly and Andre Heimgartner rounded out the top 10.
|Anton De Pasquale
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Jack Le Brocq