MEDIA RELEASE/Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand - Photo: TGRNZ & Hampton Downs FB Shane van…
Scott McLaughlin recorded his 47th victory in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with a calculated drive to head off a resurgent Lee Holdsworth and Anton De Pasquale.
McLaughlin started the night race from pole position with Shane van Gisbergen alongside. McLaughlin made a fast start on the hard tyre but van Gisbergen took full advantage of his soft tyre choice to outbrake the Shell V-Power Mustang and into the lead. Cameron Waters Lee Holdsworth was also on the softer option and pushed McLaughlin back to 4th.
Shane van Gisbergen held a 0.2 second gap with Holdsworth glued to the back of the Monster Energy Mustang. Anton De Pasquale was another to start on the soft tyre and displaced McLaughlin from 4th on lap 4. Macauley Jones had his best start in the Virgin Australia Supercar race ad sat inside the top 10 during the opening laps of the race. He took advantage of his soft tyres to move past Mark Wintebottom for 8th place on lap 6.
Scott Pye was the firs to stop on lap 8 and kept the hard compound tyres on his Team 18 Commodore. Whincup and Kelly were the next to stop on lap 10, with Whincup switching to the soft tyre. Scott McLaughlin stopped on Lap 11 and also changed to the soft tyre.
Holdsworth dived inside teammate Waters for second at turn 2 on lap 12. De Pasquale pitted on lap 13 and replaced his used soft tyres for a new set of the same tyre. Holdsworth also went back to back on the soft tyres and returned to the track marginally ahead of McLaughlin and De Pasquale on cold tyres. McLaughlin muscled past on the run to turn 4 and De Pasquale tried to follow through. The pair bumped in the process which forced the Penrite driver over the turn 5 kerbs. De Pasquale didn’t lift off the throttle and maintained 11th place.
Race leader van Gisbergen stopped on lap 21 and changed to the hard tyre. He dropped behind Mclaughlin, Holdsworth and De Pasquale into 7th place. McLaughlin assumed the race lead after Nick Percat became the last to stop with 10 laps left to run.
Pye, Reynolds, Mostert and Hazelwood were engaged in a spirited battle for 12th place.
Holdsworth was also on a charge and reduced McLaughlin’s lead to 0.8 seconds as the race entered the final five laps. McLaughlin and stretched the lead back out to 1.5 seconds with two laps remaining.
McLaughlin took the win from Holdsworth, De Pasquale, van Gisbergen, Whincup, Waters, Coulthard, Jones, Percat and Winterbottom. Mostert clawed past Pye in the final lap to take 11th place. James Courtney finished well down the order after running 28 laps on his first set of tyre, but the move may pay dividends with fresher tyres on Sunday.
“I was fortunate to get a good start and was able to position myself”, McLaughlin told Fox Sports. “I got a bit of a bump from Cameron and I knew that they were going to come after me pretty hard. Then I managed to stay with them closer than I thought. Far out the car was so good on both compounds. Every time we come in to the pits, the Shell V-Power guys have worked so hard on the pitstops to get them consistent and it was mint. I am really proud of everyone.”
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