Scott McLaughlin was a straightforward winner in Race 17 at the CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint as Chaz Mostert copped a penalty for spinning Nick Percat.
McLaughlin got the jump from pole position and the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang effectively led all 38 laps around Hidden Valley Raceway, as it had done in Race 16.
Shane van Gisbergen got home almost 10 seconds behind in the #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore and less than a quarter of a second ahead of a fast-finishing Scott Pye, who completed the podium for Team 18.
Fabian Coulthard, Cameron Waters, and Jamie Whincup filled fourth through sixth respectively, while Mostert was sent from seventh at the chequered flag to 18th due to a time penalty for a late run-in with Percat.
McLaughlin led the field away while team-mate Coulthard (#12 Mustang) went deep on the outside at the first corner and threatened to take second position from a third row start.
By the time the front-runners sorted themselves out, it was McLaughlin leading out of Turn 7 from van Gisbergen, Coulthard third having slotted in behind #97 exiting Turn 1, then Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore), Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore), Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore), and Whincup (#88 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore).
Coulthard and Waters were first of that bunch to pit, as they completed Lap 5, with each having working side tyres changed.
Having gone with McLaughlin initially, van Gisbergen had drifted to just over a second back by the time he filed into the lane on Lap 6 and resumed, on used rears, just ahead of Coulthard.
McLaughlin, Winterbottom, and Whincup came into the pits another lap later again and while the former retained the effective lead, Whincup jumped Winterbottom.
The latter lost yet another position, to an earlier-stopping James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang), having reportedly been delayed exiting his box by the presence of David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore) in the lane.
McLaughlin also reportedly had new rears at his disposal having managed to save a set of tyres in Qualifying for Race 16 a day earlier, and the DJR Team Penske driver was over two seconds clear of van Gisbergen at the end of Lap 10.
Winterbottom’s slow pit transit, meanwhile became more costly when Lee Holdsworth (#5 Truck Assist Mustang) managed to hold him off at the start of Lap 9 as he resumed after his compulsory stop.
Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore) ran to the end of Lap 18 before pitting from a nominal third and resumed in 17th, but with fresher rubber than those around him.
Percat came in a lap later from second on the road and slotted back into the train between Holdsworth and Winterbottom, as McLaughlin moved the margin over van Gisbergen to three seconds.
Mostert quickly passed Heimgartner, Winterbottom, Holdsworth, and then Courtney to sit ninth in the official order and an effective eighth with a bit over 15 laps to go.
Pye was last to pit, with 11 laps remaining, and resumed in fourth despite dropping his left-hand side wheels in the dirt at Turn 7 on his in lap.
Ahead of him were McLaughlin by almost six seconds over van Gisbergen, and Coulthard still third.
By then, Whincup had gone from hunting Waters for fifth to being hunted by Percat for sixth.
Pye lunged past Coulthard at Turn 14 on Lap 31, and set off trying to wipe out the roughly four-second gap to van Gisbergen, while the tables turned on Percat also when Mostert caught the R&J Batteries machine.
The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver gave the Brad Jones Racing pilot a nudge through Turn 6 on Lap 32 before an elbows out stoush broke out at the start of the following lap.
Mostert initially took seventh position but Percat fought back, only for front-to-rear contact to send #8 spinning into the weeds at Turn 1 on Lap 34 as he tried to complete the re-pass.
Car #25 was quickly issued a 15-second penalty for a driving infringement, and Garry Jacobson (#35 Yellow Cover ZB Commodore) copped the same for unloading another BJR man in Macauley Jones (#3 CoolDrive ZB Commodore) at the same corner later in the race.
Up front, however, McLaughlin was untroubled as he won by 9.6873s and extended his championship lead over Whincup to 141 points.
“I’m really proud of this team, Shell V-Power Racing; the car’s sensational,” said McLaughlin after what was his 50th Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race win.
“I got a pretty good start; as always it was real hard racing with Shane and I really enjoyed it. Our car hooked up and took off.
“I knew Scotty was going to come with fresh tyres there so I decided to try and pull a gap. To have the gap we had at the end is testament to the guys and the way they build the car.”
Rounding out the top 10, officially, were van Gisbergen, Pye, Coulthard, Waters, Whincup, Courtney, Holdsworth, Winterbottom, and Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore), while Percat was classified 13th.
The final race of the weekend is set to start at 14:25 local time/14:55 AEST.
Results: Race 17, CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint Updated
|1||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:00.7900|
|2||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:10.4773|
|3||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:10.7222|
|4||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:16.0697|
|5||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:22.1804|
|6||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:23.2391|
|7||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:28.7738|
|8||5||Truck Assist Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:30.2153|
|9||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:31.5209|
|10||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:32.8251|
|11||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:35.6722|
|12||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:36.9586|
|13||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:38.1028|
|14||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||38||44:38.5261|
|15||14||Brut Military Grade||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:40.7082|
|16||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:41.0737|
|17||2||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:41.7739|
|18||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:42.4874|
|19||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:47.4179|
|20||22||Team SYDNEY||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:49.6097|
|21||34||UNIT Racing||Zane Goddard||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:50.5075|
|22||19||Local Legends Racing||Alex Davison||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:55.5559|
|23||3||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||38||44:59.7948|
|24||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||38||45:14.2845|