Watch: McLaughlin fends off Mostert to claim 15th Supercars win of 2019
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After getting pushed all the way, Scott McLaughlin has claimed his 15th race win of the 2019 Supercars Championship season — this one coming at race one of the Tailem Bend OTR SuperSprint.
McLaughlin led home Chaz Mostert to make it a Ford Mustang 1–2, with the podium completed by top Holden runner Anton de Pasquale. Andre Heimgartner continued his impressive run by finishing fifth, while Shane van Gisbergen also claimed a top 10; finishing sixth.
Mostert and van Gisbergen's results see them swap positions in the championship ladder — Mostert now making it an all-Mustang top three.
The opening lap of the race was also the most chaotic. A four-wide moment mid-pack saw series debutante Thomas Randle and Macauley Jones spin out. Then a few corners later and optimistic dive from Rick Kelly resulted in James Courtney and Will Davison clattering into each other — the latter spinning fully and getting collected by Simona De Silvestro and Todd Hazelwood.
At the front McLaughlin got the best jump off the line to lead Mostert and de Pasquale. Mark Winterbottom was fourth, with a fast starting Heimgartner breathing down his neck.
The crux of the 24-lap race would be the timing of the pit-stops and the drivers who would use fresh rubber to try and undercut their competitors.
McLaughlin's early lead (they had been separated by just over a second) survived despite Mostert's attempt to undercut the series leader by stopping one lap earlier. A tardy pit-stop from Tickford proved to be the ultimate difference.
When Mostert returned to the track, he was eight tenths behind McLaughlin — his stop having taken seven tenths longer. From there McLaughlin was able to kick clear. He eventually regained the lead as the balance of the field made their pit-stops; eventually taking his first win at The Bend by five seconds.
The margin had hovered at just over a second, but a low fuel alarm on the last lap saw Mostert slow up before the chequered flag.
Among the few drivers to shoot for an undercut was Jamie Whincup. Like van Gisbergen, he had struggled in qualifying — eventually scraping into the top 10. The early stop appeared to provide gains, as he emerged as a potential contender for a top-five finish.
But, the six-time champion started to fade through the pack. He was eventually bundled outside the top 10 after losing sixth spot to teammate van Gisbergen and then getting muscled by David Reynolds.
The battle that held eyeballs in the final phase of the race was the one for fourth place; Winterbottom forced to defend from the four-car train of Heimgartner, van Gisbergen, Reynolds, and Nick Percat. Of the group, Heimgartner and van Gisbergen looked the most threatening.
But despite the best efforts of both Kiwis, neither would be able to make a move on the 2015 series champion (Heimgartner had come closest, with a brief side-by-side with three laps to go). They ended up fifth and sixth, while Fabian Coulthard and Richie Stanaway completed the Kiwi contingent in 12th and 16th respectively.
Behind Reynolds and Percat, Cameron Waters and James Courtney completed the top 10. Whincup ended up 11th, while Randle made a notable recovery to finish 17th on debut.
The Bend OTR SuperSprint results, race 21
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Chaz Mostert
3. Anton de Pasquale
4. Mark Winterbottom
5. Andre Heimgartner
6. Shane van Gisbergen
7. David Reynolds
8. Nick Percat
9. Cameron Waters
10. James Courtney
11. Jamie Whincup
12. Fabian Coulthard
13. Lee Holdsworth
14. Tim Slade
15. Scott Pye
16. Richie Stanaway
17. James Golding
18. Macauley Jones
19. Garry Jacobson
20. Jack Le Brocq
21. Jack Smith
22. Rick Kelly
DNF. Simona De Silvestro
DNF. Will Davison
DNF. Todd Hazelwood