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Shane van Gisbergen led home Jamie Whincup in a Red Bull 1-2 at the Red Rooster SuperNight 200, while Championship leader Scott McLaughlin hung on for 3rd after looking the likely leader for almost 55 of the 77 lap race.

The Shell V-Power Racing Fords locked out the front row of the grid for the night race with Shane van Gisbergen and Rick Kelly the next best for row 2. Jamie Whincup, Chaz Mostert, David Reynolds, Craig Lowndes and Michael Caruso rounded out the top 10.

Brakes glowing and flames made for a great event – Photo: Darin Mandy

SEE ALL our images from the SuperNight HERE

Scott McLaughlin grabbed the advantage from Fabian Coulthard at the start of the race as the pair ran line astern through turn 1. Shane van Gisbergen quickly moved onto the rear bumper of the #12 Ford and found his way past a lap later. Coulthard felt uncomfortable as he struggled to get heat inot the tyres and generate grip. As a result he dropped back to 4th before he was finally able to get a consistent race pace on his Dunlop tyres. McLaughlin led the first 15 laps from van Gisbergen, Whincup, Coulthard and Mostert.

Craig Lowndes gambeld on an early pitstop for an undercut on those ahead and made his first stop on lap 16. McLaughlin and van Gisbergen stopped together on lap 18, while Whincup and Coulthard stopped one lap later. Lownde’s gamble paid immediate dividends as the Autobahn Commore moved into 3rd after the first pit stop cycle had been completed. The order ramained largely unchanged through to the second round of stops as Lowndes elected to stop early once again on lap 34. Shane van Gisbergen shadowed McLaughlin into the pit lane on 39, though it was Lowndes who held a 5.8 second advantage once McLaughlin and van Gisbergen had returned to the track.

The gap between the two leader fluctuated as they ran through traffic that had not yet made their second compulsory stop, though Lowndes was still almost 5 seconds ahead when the stopped together for their final stop. McLaughlin emerged from the pits with a 1 second lead, courtesy of a smaller fuel load requirement and looked in control of the race as it moved towards the final stages of the race.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United Commodores of James Courtney and Scott Pye both suffered from front left suspension failures with approximately 25 laps to go. The high scissor toothed kerbs at turn 2 were suspected to be the cause of the drama. Todd Hazelwood then suffered a rear wing failure as he looked for a pass on Nick Percat. The Bigmate Racing driver had enjoyed his best showing in the 2018 Championship to date and sat behind the BJR Commodore on the run down the main straight. The entire rear wing blew off the car just shy of the braking marker and left Hazelwood with little time to react despite an immediate message from his crew. The car ran wide at close to 270kmh and slid sideways before Hazelwood regained control of the car and then limped back to the pits for a replacement. The Safety Car was dispatched as marshals jumped onto the track to retrieve the debris.

The race returned to green conditions with just 16 laps left t run. Scott McLaughlin led Craig Lowndes at the restart, though it was the Triple 8 pair of van Gisbergen and Whincup who looked to be in the box seat with much fresher tyres than the two leaders. The #97 Commodore made short work of Lowndes and quickly moved onto the back of McLaughlin. The pair made contact several times as McLaughlin looked to cover any move from van Gisbergen. The battle for the lead enabled both Lowndes and Whincup to join a four car freight train for the win. Scott McLaughlin received a hefty bump from van Gisbergen around the sweeper at Corporate Hill on lap 66 which momentarily upset the balance of the Shell V-Power Ford as it slewed towards the inside wall. McLaughlin regained control and remained in the lead until van Gisbergen managed to get alongside at turn 4 with 10 laps left to run.

The night completed with a BANG with fireworks down the main straight on the last lap – Photo: Darin Mandy

SEE ALL our images from the SuperNight HERE

McLaughlin then came under pressure from Jamie Whincup who had found a way around Craig Lowndes. Whincup moved into second place with just 4 laps left to run which left McLaughlin on the verge of dropping off the podium. Michael Caruso was another to fall back through the field after contact with Anton de Pasquale saw the Nissan Altima pitched into the air on the run up to Corporate Hill. The contact saw Caruso spin towards the outside wall and then limp back to the pits for a damage assessment.

Shane van Gisbergen went on to win from Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin. Craig Lowndes, Chaz Mostert, Rick Kelly, David Reynolds, Nick Percat, Jack Le Brocq and Tim Slade completed the top 10.

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