As other Kiwis clash, Scott McLaughlin wins again in Melbourne
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Scott McLaughlin has continued his winning ways at round two of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in Melbourne, after leading from lights to flag at the fourth and final race of the weekend in the build-up to the Australian GP.
Second place went to Chaz Mostert, with his win in yesterday's closing race enough to secure him the Larry Perkins Memorial Trophy for the weekend. The race six podium was rounded out by Jamie Whincup.
McLaughlin won the start after fending off Mostert and Jamie Whincup. A clean run from there on, underlined by a perfect race restart, saw him eventually claim his fifth race win of the season by eight tenths of a second.
A safety car on lap four changed the complexion of the race. It was summoned after a crash further down the order between Simona De Silvestro, Macauley Jones, and Garry Jacobson — which resulted in Jones getting spun into the inside wall at the third-to-last corner. While this didn't necessarily impact McLaughlin (thanks to a gun restart), it did add fuel to the fight for second between Mostert, Whincup, Cameron Waters, Will Davison, and an invigorated Mark Winterbottom.
The race was subsequently shortened in length by two laps off the back of the safety car period, but there would be limited changes at the front. Mostert, Whincup, Waters and co crossed the line with their orders unchanged.
Behind the leading pack, once again McLaughlin's teammate Fabian Coulthard endured a tough race. He and fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen were embroiled in a fierce battle for seventh place on lap two, only for a locked wheel and a slide wide from the Holden driver at turn 13 to trigger contact.
The hit rocketed Coulthard off the road and down the order, while van Gisbergen too also lost spots after getting swallowed up by the chasing traffic. Both drivers fell to 14th (van Gisbergen) and 22nd (Coulthard) as a result of the clash, with a 15-second penalty further handicapping van Gisbergen. The pair ended up salvaging 15th (Coulthard) and 22nd (van Gisbergen) respectively.
The poor results capped off a disastrous weekend for both drivers, who ordinarily would be championship contenders. Instead after two rounds they both sit on the edge of the top 10 in the standings (van Gisbergen now sits 11th), while McLaughlin extends his commanding lead over nearest rivals Whincup and Mostert.
Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway completed the Kiwis in 15th and 21st place respectively. Stanaway's race was hampered by a $10,000 fine and result removal inherited earlier in the day, following an incident in race five with Lee Holdsworth.
The Supercars Championship will now travel to Tasmania for round three of the season at Symmons Plains on April 6–7.
Results (Race 6, provisional)
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Chaz Mostert
3. Jamie Whincup
4. Cameron Waters
5. Will Davison
6. Mark Winterbottom
7. Tim Slade
8. David Reynolds
9. Lee Holdsworth
10. Nick Percat
11. Scott Pye
12. Anton de Pasquale
13. Todd Hazelwood
14. Andre Heimgartner
15. Fabian Coulthard
16. James Courtney
17. Simona De Silvestro
18. Garry Jacobson
19. James Golding
20. Rick Kelly
21. Richie Stanaway
22. Shane van Gisbergen
23. Jack LeBrocq
24. Macauley Jones (DNF)
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