McLaughlin holds off van Gisbergen in Supercars’ return race

Scott McLaughlin leads Shane van Gisbergen

Scott McLaughlin has withstood heavy pressure from Shane van Gisbergen to win Race 7 of the season upon the return of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver had only 0.1876s on his Kiwi compatriot at the chequered flag after the opening 32-lap encounter at the BP Ultimate SuperSprint despite somewhat contrasting approaches to the race.

Jamie Whincup made it two Red Bull Holden Racing Team entries on the podium at a cloudy Sydney Motorsport Park, ahead of Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore) and Nick Percat (#8 Dunlop Super Dealer ZB Commodore).

Van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore) bettered McLaughlin (#17 Mustang) from the outside of the front row at the initial launch but the pole-sitter had his nose ahead as they arrived at Moffat Corner (Turn 1) and took the advantage back.

Whincup (#88 ZB Commodore) emerged third from the opening corners while Mostert finally wrested fourth from Percat as they rounded Turn 05.

McLaughlin continued to pull away, with his lead peaking above 3.6s on Lap 8 before van Gisbergen started to turn the tide.

Whincup, who had seen off early pressure from Mostert, was first of the top five to pit, on Lap 14, and he rejoined between Tickford Racing team-mates Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang) and Lee Holdsworth (#5 Truck Assist Mustang).

A steadier van Gisbergen had caught the #17 Mustang by the time McLaughlin was called in to pit on Lap 15, with the initial race leader matching Whincup by taking four new tyres.

Rather than trying to cover off McLaughlin, van Gisbergen was sent around for three more laps before stopping.

He re-emerged behind Holdsworth but, having also been taken four new tyres versus two for Car #5, was able to slice past easily at Bond Bend (Turn 2) just over a lap later.

Van Gisbergen’s charge continued thanks in part to Whincup.

The seven-time champion got by the early-stopping Waters on the way to Turn 1 on Lap 21, making room for his team-mate to show the nose as they rounded the sweeper and drive past the black Mustang.

Van Gisbergen was not done, diving past Car #88 three corners later, at which time McLaughlin was a little more than three seconds up the road.

As he had done during the first stint, the Triple Eight driver all but wiped out the margin to the #17 Mustang and was hassling the leader by the end of Lap 29.

McLaughlin then had to deal with a bad sportsmanship flag for kerb overuse, but was good enough to keep #97 behind him in the three laps which remained.

“He’s like a cockroach, you can never get rid of him,” quipped the race winner of van Gisbergen.

“He’s always around. It was unbelievable, a good battle.

“I knew I was going to be in trouble on that last stint because of the way he came at me in the first.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do with regard to how we tune up but you take them when you can get them.

“It was a tough last five laps but I did the best I could and thankfully we came out on top. It was great racing.”

Whincup finished more than nine seconds back while Mostert had to pass his former team-mates in Waters and Holdsworth on the road in the second stint to take fourth.

Percat came from even further back to finish where he ended the opening lap, with Waters finishing sixth.

Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore) could not find a way past Holdsworth and had to settle for eighth, one spot behind Car #5.

Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore) finished ninth and Fabian Coulthard (#12 Shell V-Power Mustang), who ran seventh initially but came under attack and dropped three spots on the road in the opening stint, got back to 10th.

Todd Hazelwood (#14 Brut ZB Commodore) was among those held up by Coulthard before the pit stop cycle and eventually finished 11th.

James Courtney gained net nine positions to take 12th in his first race in the #44 Boost Mobile Ford Mustang, while David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore) went the other way from 18th on the grid to 21st at the finish.

McLaughlin’s championship lead over Whincup is now 41 points, while van Gisbergen is now 167 points back but an improved eighth position in the standings.

The Sunday programme commences with back-to-back 15-minute qualifying sessions for Races 8 and 9 respectively, from 10:35 local time/AEST.

Results: Race 7, BP Ultimate Sydney SuperSprint

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Laps Race time
1 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT 32 49:59.5856
2 97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 32 49:59.7732
3 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:09.3608
4 25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:10.6615
5 8 Dunlop Super Dealer Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:27.9141
6 6 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 32 50:30.3843
7 5 Truck Assist Racing Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 32 50:31.3409
8 99 Penrite Racing Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:31.3695
9 18 IRWIN Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:32.2562
10 12 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 32 50:34.8243
11 14 Brut Military Grade Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:35.8664
12 44 Boost Mobile Racing James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 32 50:43.5664
13 2 Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:43.5756
14 15 Castrol Racing Rick Kelly Ford Mustang GT 32 50:47.8688
15 7 NED Whisky Racing Andre Heimgartner Ford Mustang GT 32 50:48.0249
16 35 Yellow Cover Racing Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:50.4299
17 20 DEWALT Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:50.6452
18 3 Team CoolDrive Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 32 50:50.9955
19 55 Supercheap Auto Racing Jack Le Brocq Ford Mustang GT 32 50:51.4746
20 22 Team SYDNEY Chris Pither Holden Commodore ZB 32 51:01.6210
21 9 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 32 51:21.9690
22 34 UNIT Racing Jake Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 32 51:23.7564
23 4 SCT Motor Sports Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 31 50:02.0886
NC 19 Local Legends Racing Alex Davison Holden Commodore ZB 12 19:05.6285

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Scott McLaughlin 388
2 Jamie Whincup 347
3 Chaz Mostert 314
4 Cameron Waters 299
5 David Reynolds 238
6 Lee Holdsworth 235
7 Will Davison 231
8 Shane van Gisbergen 221
9 Mark Winterbottom 218
10 Fabian Coulthard 214
11 Nick Percat 209
12 Rick Kelly 192
13 Andre Heimgartner 190
14 Todd Hazelwood 177
15 Jack Le Brocq 158
16 Bryce Fullwood 140
17 Macauley Jones 136
18 Anton De Pasquale 123
19 Jack Smith 120
20 Zane Goddard 108
21 James Courtney 106
22 Scott Pye 96
23 Garry Jacobson 83
24 Chris Pither 78
25 Jake Kostecki 26
26 Alex Davison 0

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