Scott McLaughlin makes history with 17th win after safety car chaos
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Scott McLaughlin has tied up two of motorsport's longest-lasting records, after winning the second race of the weekend at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint. The 26-year-old Kiwi now holds the record for the most wins claimed in a single Supercars season as well as the most wins in a single season by a Team Penske driver — 17.
The race ended up boiling down to a Kiwi versus Kiwi duke out, with Shane van Gisbergen doing everything to chase him down in the dying laps. But he couldn't close down the margin, with the Shell V-Power Mustang taking the win by just under two seconds.
McLaughlin now leads the championship by 598 points, while Van Gisbergen's second place sees him become only the second driver to win the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy more than once, by virtue of his consistent weekend.
It was a race punctuated by numerous feel-good stories. Todd Hazelwood and Simona De Silvestro claimed a career-best finishes in fifth and seventh, respectively. While Richie Stanaway finished in the top 10 for the second day in a row. Although, a series of catastrophes during an early safety car period spoiled the races of both front-row starters; Jamie Whincup and Lee Holdsworth.
The somewhat unlikely pairing led away the grid, and held first and second before making their first pit-stops. Then came a safety car for the stranded Penrite Commodore of David Reynolds and the hairpin. This spurred on those who hadn't stopped to make a stop, and it also caused grand confusion on track.
Whincup and Holdsworth naturally kept circulating, along with a group of other early stoppers including Will Davison. They came across the safety car on the back straight. It appeared to want to pick up Whincup, but Whincup after a moment of hesitation decided to press on. Holdsworth, noting the safety car's red lights, stayed in line. This buried him and everyone else behind him at the back of the field when the safety car was eventually prompted to pick up McLaughlin and van Gisbergen as the race leaders.
Whincup then inherited a drive-through penalty for incorrect procedure, which forced him to hand over what had become a commanding race lead. The result handed first to McLaughlin and second to van Gisbergen, with Chaz Mostert and the impressive pairing of Nick Percat and Todd Hazelwood in tow.
“To be honest, it’s not good enough, but I can understand a little bit of the confusion because he (Jamie) wasn’t the leader; but the lights were on,” said team owner Roland Dane following the penalty. “We couldn’t see the safety car, he can. He has to make the call and if the yellow lights are on, you don’t go past — there could be a major incident up the road where they’ve decided that they’re not even going to try and pick-up the leader.
“To be honest, I think there’s some confusion because he wasn’t the leader and the reality is they should have let everyone through then, but the lights were on. Race control need to do a better job; it’s the sort of thing that happens here because you’ve got such a short lap and a long pit lane.”
By the time the second pit stops had unfolded, a mostly bizarre race had a relatively straightforward ending set up. McLaughlin held a three-second buffer over van Gisbergen, who was two seconds ahead of Mostert. In fact the closest battle for quite some time was between the two Garry Rogers Motorsport entries of Stanaway and James Golding for ninth.
But the margins were tightening; namely between first and second and third and fourth. Van Gisbergen tightened the margin to McLaughlin to under two seconds, and Percat closed right up on Mostert to threaten for the last step on the podium.
However, ultimately the order in the top five wouldn't change; McLaughlin earning win number 17 of the year, van Gisbergen consolidating his championship position, and Mostert rounding out the podium after a disastrous Saturday.
Percat and Hazelwood rounded out the top five, with Scott Pye, De Silvestro, Mark Winterbottom, Stanaway, and Golding rounding out the top 10. Meanwhile, Whincup ended up finishing 16th — one spot behind Holdsworth. Coulthard and André Heimgartner rounded out the Kiwi contingent in 12th and 19th respectively.
The series now jets back to Australia for next month's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 10–13.
Results: ITM Auckland SuperSprint, Race 24
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Shane van Gisbergen
3. Chaz Mostert
4. Nick Percat
5. Todd Hazelwood
6. Scott Pye
7. Simona De Silvestro
8. Mark Winterbottom
9. Richie Stanaway
10. James Golding
11. Rick Kelly
12. Fabian Coulthard
13. Will Davison
14. Cameron Waters
15. Lee Holdsworth
16. Jamie Whincup
17. James Courtney
18. Tim Slade
19. André Heimgartner
20. Anton De Pasquale
21. Garry Jacobson
22. Macauley Jones
23. Jack Le Brocq
DNF. David Reynolds
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