McLaughlin vs SVG: everything you need to know for the title decider
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The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship head to the streets of Newcastle this weekend for the closest championship showdown in 10 years.
The Newcastle 500 will feature the last two events of the season and the scene is set for an epic battle across two 250km races tomorrow and Sunday.
Just 14 championship points separate Kiwis Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen prior to the final two races of the year — the smallest points differential between first and second place in the past 10 years.
With the gap between the top two drivers being so close, and there being so much on the line, there are multiple ways the weekend could play out. Here is a look at some of the possible scenarios (which it might pay to cut out and keep handy):
● McLaughlin finishes second or better on Saturday and van Gisbergen does not finish, receiving zero points, McLaughlin wins the championship.
● Van Gisbergen finishes first tomorrow and McLaughlin does not finish, receiving zero points, van Gisbergen leads by 136 points heading into Sunday's finale.
● McLaughlin finishes fourth tomorrow and van Gisbergen wins, van Gisbergen leads by 16.
● McLaughlin finishes third tomorrow and van Gisbergen wins, van Gisbergen leads by seven.
● McLaughlin finishes second tomorrow and van Gisbergen wins, McLaughlin wins by two.
● Van Gisbergen finishes fifth and McLaughlin finishes seventh, van Gisbergen leads by one.
● McLaughlin wins gaining 150 points and van Gisbergen finishes 26th gaining 27 points, McLaughlin leads by 137 heading into the Sunday race.
● Van Gisbergen wins gaining 150 points and McLaughlin finishes 26th gaining 27 points, van Gisbergen leads by 109 heading into Sunday.
Success this weekend would result in McLaughlin's first Supercars championship but, either way, a New Zealander is assured of winning the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars drivers title for the seventh time in its history.
It will also divide the historic Falcon v Commodore rivalry. Both sit equal on 16 championships each, with one set to take the overall lead.
It's worth remembering too that van Gisbergen and McLaughlin aren't the only ones fighting for a V8 championship this weekend.
Former full-time Supercars driver Chris Pither currently leads a four-car fight for the title in the Dunlop Super2 Development Series in his Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Commodore.
He, Paul Dumbrell, Garry Jacobson, and Alex Rullo are separated by 125 points — all a mathematical chance at the title. Dumbrell and Jacobson have won it before, while victory would be a first for Pither and Rullo.
- NZ Herald