Scott McLaughlin has taken another victory in 2018 and extended his championship lead after a class showing in the weekend’s opening race at Queensland Raceway.

Never looking threatened throughout the 120km sprint, the points leader converted pole to victory while keeping his nose clean around the tight circuit.

Qualifying saw McLaughlin blitz to another pole for the season, gapping the field by 0.15 seconds with Tickford’s Chaz Mostert putting in the second-fastest time. The 2014 Bathurst winner was handed a three place grid penalty after impeding Shane van Gisbergen on a hot lap, ending up fifth on the grid.

Mostert’s penalty promoted Fabian Coulthard to second for a DJR Team Penske front-row lockout with David Reynolds and Rick Kelly also benefiting. Jamie Whincup, Michael Caruso, van Gisbergen, Nick Percat and Craig Lowndes completed the top five rows of the grid.

When the green lights went out, the DJR Team Penske pairing held their positions off the line as van Gisbergen made massive gains from a rocket-like start, fighting with Kelly for third in the opening corners. McLaughlin held his ground to lead the pack on the opening tours ahead of Coulthard, van Gisbergen and Kelly.

Whincup and Mostert engaged in a feisty battle, resulting in the #55 car being escorted wide at the exit of the final turn, causing last year’s Sunday race winner to drop a handful of spots. Changing their strategy on the fly, Tickford pitted Mostert early to change his working side tyres on Lap 9.

Lowndes became the next to blink, taking his pit stop on Lap 12 to break up the front pack. While McLaughlin kept extending his lead ever so slightly, van Gisbergen started to hound the rear of Coulthard’s Falcon, eventually sneaking past for an effective second place.

McLaughlin’s stop on Lap 14 saw the pole sitter’s car take on four new tyres and a splash of fuel, only just emerging from the pits ahead of a charging Mostert. Van Gisbergen and Coulthard came in on the next tour; both emerged further down the pack than anticipated with van Gisbergen behind Lowndes and Coulthard following.

On slightly fresher tyres, van Gisbergen soon got past Lowndes for an effective third place. Coulthard struggled to follow the Red Bull car, having to stay behind Lowndes for a few more laps. Kelly and Whincup pitted on Lap 21 from the lead; both had slow stops that slotted them down the order.

As an exchange between Kelly and Garth Tander on warmer tyres almost ended with the Commodore spun on the run between Turns 1 and 2 as Kelly returned serve for contact at the last corner. Van Gisbergen started to make a charge forwards, getting past Mostert on Lap 25 and being able to drag Lowndes with him through the fast Turn 1.

Being one of the last cars from the front pack to stop, Whincup started a charge up the order in the final ten laps, making use of the better quality tyre, getting himself past James Courtney, Reynolds and Mostert in a matter of laps.

Whincup continued his charge in the dying laps, getting up to the back of Coulthard’s car who was trying to find his way past Lowndes. In his eagerness to get by the #888 car in front, he left himself open to the #1 behind who snuck past and set the crosshairs on Lowndes, the pair drag racing to the line with the veteran prevailing.

Nothing could stop McLaughlin up front, the young Kiwi taking his seventh win of the season and extending his points lead as van Gisbergen came home a comfortable second. Lowndes fought off Whincup for the final spot on the podium while Coulthard stayed in fifth. Mostert, Reynolds, Courtney, Michael Caruso and Nick Percat polished off the top ten finishers.

2018 Australian Supercars Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint – Race 19 Final Classification (39 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Result
1. Scott McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team 46:40.818
2. Shane van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing Team + 4.317
3. Craig Lowndes Autobarn Lowndes Racing + 5.830
4. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing Team + 5.872
5. Fabian Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team + 8.505
6. Chaz Mostert Supercheap Auto Racing Team + 14.069
7. David Reynolds Erebus Penrite Racing + 14.285
8. James Courtney Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing + 14.504
9. Michael Caruso Drive Racing + 14.894
10. Nick Percat Summit Racing + 16.633
11. Garth Tander Wilson Security Racing GRM + 19.797
12. Richie Stanaway Rabble Club Racing + 21.087
13. Rick Kelly Castrol Racing + 21.422
14. Tim Slade Freightliner Racing + 21.716
15. Andre Heimgartner Plus Fitness Racing + 21.986
16. Scott Pye Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing + 22.555
17. Will Davison Milwaukee Racing + 22.649
18. James Golding Wilson Security Racing GRM + 22.649
19. Simona de Silvestro Team Harvey Norman + 23.989
20. Mark Winterbottom The Bottle-O Racing Team + 24.228
21. Jack Le Brocq TEKNO Autosport + 24.556
22. Cameron Waters Monster Energy Racing + 32.311
23. Tim Blanchard Team CoolDrive + 37.135
24. Lee Holdsworth Preston Hire Racing + 37.199
25. Kurt Kostecki Arcoplate Racing + 38.200
26. Anton de Pasquale Erebus Motorsport + 1:01.554
27. Todd Hazelwood Bigmate Racing 5 laps behind

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Jordan Mulach

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Canberra born and raised journalist, living in Brisbane. Sports Media graduate from the University of Canberra. iRacing addict