Jamie Whincup has claimed a second straight win in comprehensive fashion as Scott McLaughlin drove from 13th on the grid to sixth in Race 20 at the NTI Townsville SuperSprint.
Whincup effectively led all 39 laps around the Reid Park Street Circuit and beat Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert by a touch over three seconds, while Shane van Gisbergen made for two Red Bull Holden Racing Team cars on the podium.
Cameron Waters was first of the Fords home in fourth, ahead of Nick Percat and McLaughlin, despite the latter getting stuck in traffic in his first stint.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver’s Virgin Australia Supercars Championship lead is now 109 points over Whincup, while Mostert has consolidated third in the standings.
Whincup (#88 ZB Commodore) led the field to the first corner under cloudy skies ahead of Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore) and Tickford Racing duo James Courtney (#44 Boost Mobile Mustang) and Waters (#6 Monster Energy Mustang), who ran side-by-side.
Courtney made third spot his for the drive up Charters Towers Road, at the end of which David Reynolds (#9 Penrite ZB Commodore) went down the inside of Waters to take fourth.
McLaughlin lost two positions in the cut and thrust of the opening lap to sit 15th, before Percat (#8 R&J Batteries ZB Commodore) dived down the inside of van Gisbergen (#97 ZB Commodore) to take seventh on Lap 2 at Turn 2.
Percat’s Brad Jones Racing team-mate, Todd Hazelwood (#14 Black Duck ZB Commodore), lunged at Fabian Coulthard nine corners later, wresting 16th from the #12 Mustang and also tapping McLaughlin’s sister #17 Mustang which was just ahead.
The championship leader was still stuck behind Macauley Jones (#3 CoolDrive ZB Commodore) when he was called into the pits from 15th spot on Lap 7 for three more tyres, resuming last but with more than 30 seconds’ worth of clear air in front.
DJR Team Penske pitted Coulthard a lap later and he promoted his team-mate to 23rd when he re-entered the race track after a somewhat slow stop.
Waters stopped on Lap 12 from a nominal and effective fifth and resumed alongside Percat, who had pitted a lap earlier from seventh, but managed to hold off Car #8.
Waters played the reverse role on the next lap when Courtney popped back out of the pits and kept his team-mate behind him despite the disadvantage of cold tyres.
De Pasquale, who ran sixth early on, had followed Courtney into the lane but ended up behind the DJRTP Mustangs due to a tardy pit stop.
The Erebus Motorsport driver passed Coulthard on Lap 16, while van Gisbergen got by De Pasquale’s team-mate, Reynolds, for a nominal third at Turn 13 on Lap 18.
Up the road, van Gisbergen’s team-mate had been gapping Mostert with apparent ease and was 6.9s to the good when the WAU pilot pitted from second on Lap 20.
Mostert emerged behind Waters but passed him on the road at Turn 11 on Lap 22, and Courtney at the same corner a lap later.
Meanwhile, van Gisbergen had pitted on Lap 21 and Whincup on Lap 22, the latter of whom rejoined in fifth but still the effective leader.
When Scott Pye (#20 DeWalt ZB Commodore) pitted from the official lead at the end of Lap 27, the cycle was complete and Whincup led Mostert, Courtney, Waters, Percat, McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, De Pasquale, Reynolds, and Lee Holdsworth (#5 Truck Assist Mustang), with Coulthard 12th.
Van Gisbergen had pace and McLaughlin chose to sidestep any battle when #97 came for him at Turn 13 on Lap 28.
The Triple Eight driver put the same move on Percat on Lap 30, and closed up to Courtney when he ran wide at Turn 2 on Lap 32 and Waters drove through the big hole left by #44.
Van Gisbergen was past Courtney later that lap with a textbook move at Turn 11, then made a nice overtake of Waters at Turn 2 on Lap 34.
Percat got under Courtney at Turn 2 on Lap 36 and pulled ahead of the silver Mustang up the following straight, with McLaughlin following him through to rise to sixth.
The two-time champion would put Percat under pressure for the handful of laps which remained but could find no way through.
Meanwhile, Whincup eased to a win of 3.0139s over Mostert, with van Gisbergen 13.1169s further back.
“Car was fantastic, got a good start and had a good battle with Chaz down into Turn 2,” recounted Whincup.
“From there, the car was excellent and I was able to hold position.
“We don’t normally go long, we usually go pretty short, but it was great to be able to go long and have some good tyres at the end there.”
The Race 20 winner was not as optimistic about Race 21, which he will start from fourth on the grid.
“We’re off P4 in the next one, we’ve used a fair bit of our tyres up as well, so we’ll do our best in the last to try and hang in there as well as we possibly can,” he said.
“The game is to try and score as much points as possible over the weekend. We’re in a good position, but certainly have to round it off in Race 3 (of the event).”
Waters took the chequered flag just over 20 seconds behind #88, ahead of Percat, McLaughlin, Courtney, and De Pasquale.
Pye charged home and passed Reynolds for ninth in the final corners, while Coulthard ended up 15th.
Race 21, another 39-lapper, starts at 15:40 local time/AEST.
Results: Race 20, NTI Townsville SuperSprint
|1||88||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:17.4666|
|2||25||Mobil 1 Appliances Online||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:20.4805|
|3||97||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:33.5974|
|4||6||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:37.9056|
|5||8||R&J Batteries||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:41.2560|
|6||17||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:41.8318|
|7||44||Boost Mobile Racing||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:46.1040|
|8||99||Penrite Racing||Anton De Pasquale||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:46.5703|
|9||20||DEWALT Racing||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:47.3060|
|10||9||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:47.6882|
|11||5||Truck Assist Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:48.7650|
|12||55||Supercheap Auto Racing||Jack Le Brocq||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:49.2998|
|13||14||Team Black Duck||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:51.0305|
|14||7||NED Whisky Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:51.8479|
|15||12||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Mustang GT||39||49:57.1007|
|16||35||Yellow Cover Racing||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||39||49:58.9555|
|17||18||IRWIN Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:01.2071|
|18||3||Team CoolDrive||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:01.4110|
|19||2||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:03.1855|
|20||15||Castrol Racing||Rick Kelly||Ford Mustang GT||39||50:04.4766|
|21||34||UNIT Racing||Zane Goddard||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:09.5747|
|22||19||Local Legends Racing||Alex Davison||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:09.9578|
|23||4||SCT Motor Sports||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:11.8996|
|24||22||Team SYDNEY||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||39||50:12.7034|
|4||Shane van Gisbergen||1097|
|11||Anton De Pasquale||865|
|15||Jack Le Brocq||738|