Watch: Scott McLaughlin equals Supercars record with 16th race win
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It looked initially like he would be forced to accept second place, but a rival's critical pit-lane gaffe has helped Kiwi Scott McLaughlin win the second race of the OTR SuperSprint at Tailem Bend. It's his 16th race win of the year, coming at his 99th round of Supercars competition.
The result sees McLaughlin equal Craig Lowndes' 1996 record for most wins in a single Supercars season. And, he still has five rounds to eclipse that record. His championship lead is now an enormous 573 points.
McLaughlin's main rival for the majority of the race was Will Davison. The Milwaukee Racing driver scooped the lead off the start, and then proceeded to lead the race through the first stanza and then on the run between the two pit-stops.
McLaughlin in fact fell to third off the start, following a grand start from Red Bull pilot Jamie Whincup. After struggling on Saturday he had qualified in third — threatening for first by turn one. Elsewhere, Mark Winterbottom's positive run in the top six was crossed out by turn two, thanks to a spin prompted by three-wide contact with Cameron Waters and Tim Slade.
Whincup had good early pace, but an attempted pass on Davison at turn three turned sour for him. A late backing out of the move cost him momentum, and allowed McLaughlin to leap by in the following corners. From there, McLaughlin looked to have a challenge on his hands to pass Davison. But the possibilities of Davison's 23 Red Racing squad emerging with a fairy-tale maiden team race win went south during the second pit-stop cycle.
A minor airbox fire while trundling down pit-lane cost the former Bathurst 1000 winner crucial momentum and time as he rolled to his pit-bay. The stop itself went off seamlessly, but the initial delays were enough to cost him the lead. McLaughlin took it and, thanks to a straightforward run to the chequered flag, was able to to claim his second race win of the weekend.
The big battle in the second half of the race was the one for second. Davison's woes meant he was soon joined by a threatening Chaz Mostert, as well as the recovering Whincup. But as the laps passed, Mostert faded away slightly and Whincup — having faded initially anyway — came off the track through the long, tricky right-hander that had claimed numerous drivers over the course of the weekend.
This left Davison and Mostert to finish off the podium, with Nick Percat stealing away fourth from Whincup — the Brad Jones Racing driver's best result of the season. Shane van Gisbergen finished sixth (a result gained via a long-stint strategy, which ultimately helped him gain 10 spots during the race), with Anton de Pasquale, Waters, Lee Holdsworth, and a quiet Fabian Coulthard completing the top 10.
Mostert's result sees him jump Coulthard in the championship standings to now sit second, almost two events worth of points behind McLaughlin.
Andre Heimgartner and Richie Stanaway rounded out the Kiwis in 20th and 24th respectively. Heimgartner held down a spot in the top 10 early in the race, but had to take a pit-lane penalty for an infraction during his first stop.
The series now prepares to travel across the ditch to New Zealand for the ITM Auckland SuperSprint at Pukekohe Park Raceway on September 14–15.
Results, OTR SuperSprint Tailem Bend — Race 22
1. Scott McLaughlin
2. Will Davison
3. Chaz Mostert
4. Nick Percat
5. Jamie Whincup
6. Shane van Gisbergen
7. Anton de Pasquale
8. Cameron Waters
9. Lee Holdsworth
10. Fabian Coulthard
11. Rick Kelly
12. Tim Slade
13. David Reynolds
14. Todd Hazelwood
15. James Courtney
16. Scott Pye
17. Thomas Randle
18. James Golding
19. Garry Jacobson
20. Andre Heimgartner
21. Macauley Jones
22. Simona De Silvestro
23. Mark Winterbottom
24. Richie Stanaway
25. Jack Le Brocq
25. Jack Smith