Supercars championship leader Scott McLaughlin has taken his fifth race win of the season, continuing a near perfect start to the year after his dramas yesterday.
The reigning series champion converted a front row start to victory, with it extending his points lead as the DJR Team Penske driver looks to recover points from yesterday’s non-start in race five of the championship.
Saturday evening winner Chaz Mostert started from pole after pipping Scott McLaughlin in Friday’s final qualifying session, completing another Ford Mustang lockout of the front row for the weekend.
Jamie Whincup again was the best of the Holden runners in third place, holding off Cam Waters behind him on the second row of the grid. Shane van Gisbergen’s second best qualifying of the weekend came for the final race, starting from fifth position.
McLaughlin got the holeshot into turn one for the third time over the weekend as Mostert again struggled off the line, losing a spot to Whincup and slotting back into third position. Further back, a bit of hip and shoulder for van Gisbergen from Will Davison pushed him back down the order behind Mark Winterbottom and Fabian Coulthard.
A lock-up for Coulthard at turn 13 left the door open to van Gisbergen, gaining another spot as he got past the DJR Team Penske Mustang at turn 14 but couldn’t quite run away.
A skirmish between the two on the next lep led to a van Gisbergen lock up, running wide into Coulthard and forcing the #12 car down the turn 13 escape road. Officials later handed down a 15 second penalty to van Gisbergen, adding salt to the wound of his dire Melbourne weekend.
Back up front, Mostert was looking quick, making use of his better speed early in the race to get past Whincup for second and chase down McLaughlin though from two seconds back. Mostert’s Tickford team-mate Waters tried to follow suit, applying the pressure to the back of the #88 for third place.
Macauley Jones brought out the race’s first safety car after being turned into the fence between turn 13 and 14 by Garry Jacobson. Jones had tried to get up the inside of Simona De Silvestro while she covered and Jacobson had an overlap, resulting in the Brad Jones Racing car retiring.
With the stricken BJR car cleaned up, McLaughlin led the field to the restart on lap six as the race looked to go time certain. McLaughlin led Mostert away from the chasing pack with Whincup holding up Waters behind, the Tickford man looking much better on cold tyres.
As tyre temperatures got back up to normal, Whincup opened up an advantage to Waters while McLaughlin and Mostert out front ran away from the third placed driver. Waters was soon having to act as the hunted with Davison hot on his heels for fourth place.
The race was shortened to 11 laps from the planned 13, easing the pressure for Waters but also giving some reprieve for the leaders. McLaughlin took the flag first, his fifth win of the season, helping to extend his championship lead despite yesterday’s non-start.
Mostert’s second place and feature on the podium in every race of the weekend ensured he won the Larry Perkins Trophy with the round victory. Whincup in third place notched up his 200th podium finish, a record for the Supercars Championship.
Waters held on for fourth ahead of Davison and ex-team-mate Mark Winterbottom came home sixth. Tim Slade, David Reynolds, Lee Holdsworth and Nick Percat completed the top ten while van Gisbergen ended up in 22nd once his 15 second penalty was applied.
Image via Ignite Image