Scott McLaughlin has taken his fourth win of the year after putting in a calculated drive at Hidden Valley Raceway.
Hot off the back of a solid second placing in his team’s third one-two finish of the year in Saturday’s 120km race, the young Kiwi converted pole to a win in Sunday’s 200km feature.
One of the few rounds to feature a top ten shootout, Scott McLaughlin proved why he is the one lap king, taking pole in what is becoming a regular occurrence. Jamie Whincup lined up beside his title rival in second with James Moffat making a surprise appearance in third. Fabian Coulthard lined up fourth with Shane Van Gisbergen in fifth.
At the start of the race it was Whincup who made the better start, leading the pack in to turn one. While there was a traffic jam in the back, the field got through the opening laps relatively unscathed.
Coulthard again the first of the leaders to take a pit stop, similar to the strategy implemented by his team in his Saturday win. His short fill of the fuel tank and young tyres gave him good track position as his fellow competitors pitted.
Whincup was the next to jump in to the pits, taking on more fuel than Coulthard and ended up behind him on the road. McLaughlin followed a few laps later, rejoining behind the effective lead pair and David Reynolds who he soon passed.
The benefit of Coulthard’s early stop was soon negated as Whincup passed the Kiwi at the hairpin, the former conceding the lead due to his tyres fading away. McLaughlin was soon waved past his team-mate, hunting down Whincup who had to take on a higher amount of fuel in the next round of stops.
The first of the second round stops came on lap 34 with Coulthard and Van Gisbergen coming in. The defending champion had a shorter fill than the points leader, putting him in effective third position. McLaughlin came in to the pits not long after, having to take on far less fuel than his on track rivals.
Whincup pitted last out of the front runners, coming in a few laps after McLaughlin to have better tyre life at the end of the race but sacrificing track position early on. One of the few stressful moments of the race came on lap 48 when Simona De Silvestro spun Dale Wood at the hairpin though no visible damage affected either car. The incident earned the Swiss Miss a 15 second time penalty.
Moffat dropped out of a solid place in the field after suffering a tyre failure at the high speed turn four, somehow saving the car and limping back to the pits. While he was able to finish the race, the potential to score his best finish of the year vanished.
Coulthard was clearly struggling, keeping up with Van Gisbergen who occupied the last podium spot but had to fend off an attack from Tim Slade who had pace to burn. Craig Lowndes was also eager to get by, rattling the rear bar of Slade’s Commodore as they all wanted to fight for a spot on the victory dais.
At the front, nothing could stop McLaughlin who won another race for DJR Team Penske, extending their teams championship lead. Whincup came home second with his team-mate Van Gisbergen in third. Coulthard retained his championship points lead with fourth while Slade finished fifth. Lowndes, Reynolds, Scott Pye, Cam Waters and Rick Kelly rounded out the top ten finishers.
Image via Shell V-Power Racing Team