Championship leader Scott McLaughlin fought off a hard charge from his rivals to take yet another win for the season, extending his lead on the way to what he hopes will be a championship year.
The 25 year old New Zealander converted a front row start to take his sixth win of the season and the 100th victory for DJR Team Penske, showing a cool head in hot conditions en route to his second victory in a row at Hidden Valley.
Erebus Motorsport driver David Reynolds took his first pole position for the team after getting out early in the session, taking advantage of the high grip to get the prime spot. He eclipsed Scott McLaughlin who started from second while fellow Erebus driver, rookie Anton De Pasquale, qualified third. Rick Kelly capitalised on his good practice pace for fourth while the Red Bull pairing of Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen locked out the third row.
An even jump off the line saw Reynolds hold the lead into turn one, McLaughlin filing in behind him with Kelly promoting himself to third ahead of De Pasquale. The order settled quickly early on as collisions further back on lap two saw Mark Winterbottom and Macaulay Jones spin in different incidents.
Kelly and Whincup became the first pair to stop, both pitting on lap five with Whincup having to check up exiting his pit bay to avoid contact with the Nissan. Next lap it was time for McLaughlin to pit for working side tyres, pulling in De Pasquale with him.
Van Gisbergen took on four tyres in his pit stop, coming in on lap 19 and emerging behind De Pasquale. Reynolds came in from the lead for four tyres, three of them fresh, coming out behind Van Gisbergen but quickly moved up the order.
Kelly and Whincup went side by side from turn one to turn four, the Nissan driver holding the inside line but running wide, leaving Whincup vulnerable to Van Gisbergen and then Reynolds. On the next lap, Van Gisbergen got past Kelly who then lost another spot to Reynolds after a divebomb at turn one.
With ten laps to go, McLaughlin held the lead though his older tyres were obviously causing a pace deficit to Van Gisbergen in second, the Triple Eight driver closing in on him lap by lap, wanting to narrow the points gap even more.
Garth Tander ran long in his first stint, pitting with less than ten laps to go and coming out in the top ten, looking to make use of fresh rubber to slice his way up the pack. He picked off Nick Percat, Whincup and Lowndes within two laps, soon getting up to fifth by passing Kelly.
Van Gisbergen continued to hound McLaughlin as he dragged Reynolds along with him, the Erebus Commodore making big dents in the gap to the leading pair. McLaughlin looked to struggle on the older tyres than his pursuers but held the pair off in the dying laps.
McLaughlin held on to take his sixth win of the year, keeping title rival Van Gisbergen behind him while polesitter Reynolds had to settle for third. Scott Pye came home for an impressive fourth ahead of the late stopping Tander in fifth while Kelly, Craig Lowndes, Whincup, Percat and Michael Caurso completed the top ten.
Image via Shell V-Power Racing Team
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