Winner takes all: van Gisbergen victorious, epic Sunday showdown awaits
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The gripping fight for the Supercars championship will come down to the final race – and quite possibly, the first lap.
The pulsating battle that has raged all season between New Zealand drivers Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen reached new heights tonight, with van Gisbergen claiming a thrilling victory in the penultimate race.
With just two corners to go on the final lap, van Gisbergen flew down the inside of McLaughlin, whose desperate attempts to conserve fuel while leading eventually cost him victory.
As McLaughlin puttered over the line – his car coming to a complete stop almost immediately after finishing – van Gisbergen was left to reflect on a dramatic victory which puts him just two points behind his rival in the title race.
"I don't have much voice, there were so many words coming out of my mouth then, that was awesome," van Gisbergen said.
"What a race. I could see Scotty was really charging. It was awesome, just two teams fighting hard.
"They obviously made a risky call to get all their fuel in, they did well there… I thought it was all over.
"It's winner takes all tomorrow. It's awesome. I'm really enjoying the battle."
Van Gisbergen claimed 150 points for the win, with McLaughlin claiming 138 for second, making his deficit just two points. It makes the championship equation simple – whoever crosses the line first tomorrow wins the title.
In its early running, the race was shaping up as a two versus two showdown; as the teammates of the championship leaders both tried to play a role in hobbling the opposition.
Jamie Whincup had won the race start, only to allow van Gisbergen past a lap later before slowing the field behind. The return of serve from Shell V-Power Racing came when they pitted Fabian Coulthard during the early phase with a short fuel fill, with the potential plan of him emerging ahead of van Gisbergen.
The chess match fell, however, when Coulthard and Whincup tangled with each other at the last corner (sending Whincup into the tyre wall). Coulthard then had a crash of his own at turn one later in the race; a heavy crash that also claimed Nick Percat and Tim Blanchard.
Behind van Gisbergen and McLaughlin, David Reynolds completed the podium, while Whincup, Scott Pye, Mark Winterbottom, James Courtney, André Heimgartner (having started last), Rick Kelly, and an impressive Simona De Silvestro rounded out the top 10.
- NZ Herald