Kiwi vs Kiwi: Scott McLaughlin fends off SVG in dramatic Queensland finale
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While his Saturday didn't exactly go to plan, Scott McLaughlin's Sunday drive was about as textbook as they come — the Kiwi having claimed a memorable race win at the closing 65-lap showdown of the Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint.
McLaughlin held off a hard-charging Shane van Gisbergen in the dying laps to win by just seven tenths. Chaz Mostert completed the podium, some 10 seconds behind.
“That was hard. Shane just pushed me the whole way, he was obviously just coming and coming," said McLaughlin. "Mine was pushing like a bus or a truck; it was just had no turn in it. A bit to think about. Awesome battle, we always have good battles me and Shane.
“I just want to keep building. I’m just very lucky I get to drive a car like this. I just want to make the most of it and I felt like that was a great chance to really make the most of it."
The win both earns the manufacturers championship for Ford with six rounds to go, and naturally extends McLaughlin's lead of the championship. And, on top of the defending champ's result, his closest rival Fabian Coulthard had a race fraught with issues. After struggling in qualifying, he was spun around in an incident with Anton de Pasquale.
McLaughlin's championship lead is now an enormous 433 points.
The bulk of the race was relatively straight-forward. McLaughlin fiercely defended turn one on lap one after Mostert made a better start. The two made minor contact, but played on ahead of both Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodores.
McLaughlin held the position of power through both pit cycles, emerging from the second with a big lead. But, that wouldn't last.
The race ended up coming down to a straight, grinding dice between McLaughlin and van Gisbergen. The former had dominated proceedings since the start, while the latter had made use of a later stop to obtain fresher tyres for the run home.
The gap initially appeared insurmountable, but van Gisbergen slowly chipped away at it. And with about 10 laps to go the margin dipped underneath two seconds. And despite the drop-off in pace, the 2016 champion was able to continue chomping into the 2018 champion's lead.
With six laps to go the gap was down to just six tenths, with one mistake or one moment of bravery all that would shape the race's outcome. Against the odds, McLaughlin was able to maintain a faint half-second buffer — preventing van Gisbergen from launching a last-minute onslaught.
"Yeah, I don’t like coming second, but that was an awesome race," said van Gisbergen. "I hope everyone enjoyed it. My car was awesome today and I tried as hard as I could. Yeah, bloody cool."
Mostert claimed third, ahead of a quiet Jamie Whincup and Will Davison. Andre Heimgartner completed the Kiwi contingent in a confident seventh, behind Cameron Waters and ahead of Rick Kelly, Nick Percat (who recovered after stalling on the start-line), and Mark Winterbottom. After his contact with Coulthard, de Pasquale bounced back to finish 11th.
The series now travels to The Bend Motorsport Park for round 10 of the season on August 24-25.
Results, Ipswich SuperSprint Race 20
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Shane van Gisbergen
3. Chaz Mostert
4. Jamie Whincup
5. Will Davison
6. Cameron Waters
7. Andre Heimgartner
8. Rick Kelly
9. Nick Percat
10. Mark Winterbottom
11. Anton de Pasquale
12. James Courtney
13. Todd Hazelwood
14. Lee Holdsworth
15. James Golding
16. Scott Pye
17. Tim Slade
18. Fabian Coulthard
19. Simona de Silvestro
20. Michael Caruso
21. David Reynolds
22. Macauley Jones
23. Jack Le Brocq
DNF. Garry Jacobson
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