Craig Lowndes may have ensured that the Red Bull Racing Australia team secured back-to-back wins on the streets of Adelaide, but there were many more cheers for the new Volvo Polestar Racing squad, which claimed a podium finish at the hands of Scott McLaughlin.

Having secured a sensational front-row qualifying slot on the Volvo S60’s first race outing, McLaughlin was unable to jump into the lead over polesitter Lowndes, and fell behind the former champion’s teammate Jamie Whincup on the opening lap.

But the young Kiwi’s fortunes improved courtesy of a slow pit stop for Whincup, while his own tour through pit lane was perfectly timed with a Safety Car interruption which ensured he was back up to second place behind Lowndes, who had skipped away into an early lead at the start.

Whincup had recovered up to fourth place by the time the Safety Car was called, and when racing resumed he made short work of getting by Mark Winterbottom’s Ford before zooming up on the back of McLaughlin’s Volvo.

For almost 20 laps, Whincup remained glued to the back of McLaughlin, but he could do nothing about finding a way by the youngster, who drove with an assured sense of calm that belied his inexperience.

McLaughlin withstood enormous pressure from Whincup in a thrilling battleA fairytale debut podium was within the S60’s grasp, and it just seemed a case of whether it would be the second or third step of the podium.

Second place was clearly the only option for McLaughlin, but it seemed to slip through his fingers on the final lap as Whincup made a last-ditch effort into Turn 9 as he tried a passing move around the outside of the right-hand hairpin.

McLaughlin could have forced Whincup over the exit kerbs and off the circuit, but he played fair. The pair rain side-by-side through the next two left-handers, with Whincup holding the outside line to move ahead with just three corners of the race left.

And while Lowndes cruised to victory and the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, Whincup was just a few inches off-line on the approach to the final corner and slithered wide at the exit: it was all the invitation McLaughlin needed to nip through on the apex and retake the position, much to the cheers of the 80,000-strong crowd in attendance in the fading light.

For the entire Volvo-GRM team, it was a fitting reward for a Hurculean effort to ready the new car during the off-season, and the achievement – not surprisingly – proved too much for McLaughlin, who swore on live TV during his immediate post-race interview in the pit lane, and then burst into tears during the open press conference after the podium ceremony.

McLaughlin greets the crowds cheers after his historic second place finish“The fans and the reaction I got … I don’t think you’ve ever seen someone jump out of the car and fist pump the air in second before,” a teary McLaughlin reflected afterwards.

“It has just been a massive milestone for Volvo, Polestar, GRM. The amount of work those boys have done in the off season and they missed a lot of their Christmas.”

McLaughlin – an apprentice fabricator by trade – also chipped in with the build work, no doubt making the result all the more special.

Behind all the cheers for Volvo’s milestone, Winterbottom headed Ford’s charge in a rather distant fourth place, with the Falcon unable to live with the pace of either the Triple 8 Holdens or McLaughlin’s Volvo.

He was followed over the line by Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert and Garth Tander. All four Nissans finished inside the top-twelve, sandwiching Will Davison’s Erebus Mercedes AMG E63.

There was bitter disappointment for local boy Scott Pye, whose maiden outing in the Dick Johnson Racing Ford was ruined when he was punted out of the top-six by Shane van Gisbergen at the Turn 9 hairpin.

Having rightly been issued a drive-through penalty for his troubles, van Gisbergen proved that he still hadn’t found his brain, later tangling with Tim Slade at the same corner with a laughably stupid lunge down the inside of the SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden.

James Courtney and Lee Holdsworth were also left licking their wounds after the pair came together mid-race at Turn 3. Courtney tried an impossible ‘threading the needle’ pass, and succeeded only in mangling his front passenger door, which necessitated a trip through pit lane for his mechanics to convert his car into a ‘Commo-three-door’.

Sunday’s action sees the field tackle the feature 250-kilometre race – preceded by an open and ‘Top-10’ qualifying session apiece – with a further 150 championship points up for grabs for the winner.


2014 V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 Adelaide – Race 2 Final Classification (39 laps):

  Driver   Team / Entry   Time
1. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Holden 56:12.927
2. Scott McLaughlin Volvo Polestar Racing + 4.733
3. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Holden + 5.551
4. Mark Winterbottom Ford Performance Racing + 14.795
5. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Racing Holden + 15.020
6. Chaz Mostert Ford Performance Racing + 15.324
7. Garth Tander TWR Holden + 15.672
8. Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport + 24.556
9. Todd Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 25.274
10. Will Davison Erebus Motorsport AMG + 25.519
11. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 26.383
12. James Moffat Nissan Motorsport + 28.351
13. Russell Ingall Lucas Dumbrell Holden + 28.709
14. Tim Slade TWR Holden + 29.627
15. Nick Percat TWR Holden + 34.673
16. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Autosports Holden + 35.020
17. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Motorsport AMG + 35.781
18. James Courtney TWR Holden + 37.554
19. David Reynolds Ford Performance Racing + 38.062
20. Scott Pye Dick Johnson Racing Ford + 39.875
21. Jason Bright Brad Jones Racing Holden + 45.871
22. Jack Perkins Ford Performance Racing + 46.931
23. Robert Dahlgren Volvo Polestar Racing + 48.787
24. Dale Wood Brad Jones Racing Holden + 1:19.238
  Not Classified        
DNF. David Wall Dick Johnson Racing Ford 37 laps

Images via Fiasco Sports, Fox, V8 Supercars Championship

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Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Two-time Young Australian of the Year finalist, qualified mechanical engineer, social advocate, author and 'petrol head'

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