Scott McLaughlin cleans up again, claims first Adelaide 500 win
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After breaking his Adelaide 500 race-win duck yesterday on Ford's debut with the Mustang, Scott McLaughlin has doubled down with a second convincing victory at the Supercars Championship series opener. The win is particularly notable, as it took place during the New Zealander's 200th start in the series.
After earning pole position and narrowly taking the lead off the start, McLaughlin ended up taking the win by 2.3 seconds over fellow Mustang pilot Cameron Waters. The Monster Energy pilot had to fend off a hard charging Shane van Gisbergen in the dying minutes, eventually fending off the former champion to claim his best result at Adelaide.
"Credit to everyone at Shell V-Power Racing, the car was unbelievable," said McLaughlin.
"I just can't wait to party tonight. It's been unreal for Ford Performance and everyone in North America and also here ... it's a proud moment for our whole team.
"We came in hoping for two top fives, but to come away with a 300-point weekend it just blows me away."
Behind van Gisbergen, Brad Jones Racing teammates Tim Slade and Nick Percat finished a competitive fourth and fifth. Mark Winterbottom finished a credible sixth on debut with Charlie Schwerkolt's Irwin Racing outfit — ironically edging out seven-time series winner and fellow Triple 8 driver Jamie Whincup. Winterbottom's drive is made more significant by the fact that he started from last place, after mechanical issues in qualifying.
The curtain-closing race featured the first safety car of the weekend (for the stranded car of Jack LeBrocq), and it was the flurry in pit-lane that caused chaos and became the race's big central talking point.
Chaz Mostert, who had been fighting for a spot towards the top five, was released from the cramped pit-lane into Castrol Nissan driver Rick Kelly. They made prolonged contact, which sent Mostert into a spin. The SuperCheap Auto Mustang temporarily blocked the pit-lane, forcing numerous drivers (including Tim Slade, Fabian Coulthard, and many more) to awkwardly drive around the mess. Video of the full chaos can be viewed below.
Entering the final phase of the race, McLaughlin's closest rival initially was Waters — who sat right behind him after the Kiwi made his closing pit-stop. But after Waters faded off of the Shell V-Power Racing Mustang's rear, attention turned to van Gisbergen, who pressed on with a longer middle stint in the hope of finishing the race strongly on tyres in better condition.
Van Gisbergen rejoined after his final stop seven seconds behind McLaughlin and five seconds behind Waters. With the race's length being reduced and going 'time certain' (a legacy of a delayed start for repairs to turn one, with the addition of a safety car), van Gisbergen's shot at chasing down McLaughlin were washed away. He did however have a chance at stealing away second from Waters. But, the 2017 Sandown 500 winner put up a determined defense and was rewarded with a maiden Adelaide podium.
Andre Heimgartner looked set to finish register a top-10 finish, too, but a mistake late in the race while trying to pass David Reynolds for eighth at the last corner saw him spin. He eventually finished 13th. Richie Stanaway finished 18th, while after a trouble-filled race Coulthard finished 20th.
While Heimgartner couldn't quite get a top 10, one driver that did was Todd Hazelwood [pictured above]. The South Australian local bolstered his career-best 12th-place finish yesterday by making it into his first top-10 shootout earlier today. After qualifying eighth, Hazelwood went on to cross the line in 10th.
The next round of the Supercars series takes place at Albert Park, as the series tops the support card for the Melbourne GP on March 14–17.
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Cameron Waters
3. Shane van Gisbergen
4. Tim Slade
5. Nick Percat
6. Mark Winterbottom
7. Jamie Whincup
8. Will Davison
9. David Reynolds
10. Todd Hazelwood
11. Lee Holdsworth
12. James Courtney
13. Andre Heimgartner
14. Anton de Pasquale
15. Chaz Mostert
16. Simona De Silvestro
17. Scott Pye
18. Richie Stanaway
19. James Golding
20. Fabian Coulthard
21. Jack LeBrocq
22. Garry Jacobson
23. Macauley Jones (DNF)
24. Rick Kelly (DNF)