Scott McLaughlin has extended his championship lead after converting another pole to a win in Sunday’s race at Phillip Island.
After clean sweeping the event in 2016, the DJR Team Penske driver was able to take both poles and race wins over the weekend at the Island, coming back from an 11 point deficit to now lead the points standings by 60.
McLaughlin took his second pole in a row, heading the pack by four tenths of a second. David Reynolds was his closest challenger with Fabian Coulthard, Rick Kelly and Jamie Whincup making up the top five spots. Anton De Pasquale put in another hero effort to pop up in eighth after the session finished.
From pole, McLaughlin held the lead in to turn one, being able to control the pace in the opening laps.
A mechanical failure for James Courtney saw his car pull up next to the pit lane entry, bringing out the safety car. While some of the field blinked before it was called, some reacted after.
Thanks to a quick fill, Rick Kelly found himself in the lead from Reynolds and Caruso. A long fill for McLaughlin dropped him back to fourth behind his team-mate Coulthard.
The race restarted on lap 10, Kelly held a slight lead over Reynolds and Caruso held up McLaughlin and Coulthard from charging forward.
Coming in from fourth place, McLaughlin pitted on lap 27, coming in for what would be his final stop, emerging in clear air and well ahead of Whincup, Lowndes and Mostert behind him.
Right on cue, Reynolds came in to the pits on the next lap, leaving the lane in front of McLaughlin and going side-by-side with the DJR Team Penske driver through turns two and three, holding the position. Rick Kelly pitted next from the lead, dropping back to third thanks to a quick stop and having clear air before his entrance to the lane.
Reynolds held the effective lead for all of two laps until McLaughlin pulled the same move on him as he did to Whincup in Saturday’s race, jamming the Falcon up the inside and into prime position for another win.
Van Gisbergen became the hard charger towards the end of the race, making use of fresh tyres to pick off those in front to move himself closer to the front. Coulthard closed up on Kelly in the closing stages, putting pressure on the Nissan driver for the final podium spot.
Lowndes was livid after being tapped off the road at the second last corner by Van Gisbergen, enraged at his pseudo-team mate who he had to let past on the final lap yesterday. Van Gisbergen backed out of the throttle and stayed behind the #888 car, wanting to stay on the good side of his more experienced stable mate only to pass him a lap later.
Up front, McLaughlin cruised to victory from Reynolds and Rick Kelly whose two consecutive podium trips were the first since 2009. He held off Coulthard who led Caruso, van Gisbergen, Lowndes, Mostert, Whincup and Tander for the top ten places.
Image via Shell V-Power Racing Team
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