Scott McLaughlin extended his lead in the Supercars Championship standings with victory in Sunday’s race at the Ipswich SuperSprint round, staving off a late charge by long-time rival Shane van Gisbergen.

The outcome of the race boiled down to an exciting battle over the final five laps of the 200-kilometre race at Queensland Raceway, with McLaughlin prevailing by just seven-tenths of a second in the end. It was the DJR Team Penske driver’s fourteenth win of the season in its 20 races to-date, and with his closest championship rival and teammate Fabian Coulthard finishing poorly to cap off a disastrous weekend, the New Zealander now sits 433 points clear on the top of the championship standings.

Earlier in the day, McLaughlin again showed his one-lap prowess by claiming pole position for the thirteenth time this season. Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert qualified second-fastest to make it an all-Mustang front row, while the second row was locked out by the Red Bull Holden Racing Team duo of Saturday race-winner Jamie Whincup and van Gisbergen.

After being beaten off the line on Saturday, McLaughlin looked set to be outdone again on the drag race to Turn 1 as Mostert got the better getaway of the pair. They ran side-by-side through Turn 1, with a bump from Mostert through Turn 2 briefly unsettling McLaughlin before he caught the slide and kept the lead down the back straight.

From there he controlled the opening stint until the first of two compulsory pit stops, pulling a three-second gap over Mostert by Lap 15 before peeling into the pits for his first tyre change and injection of fuel.

He held the effective race lead as his rivals cycled through pit lane, although behind him there were a number of position changes thanks to varying strategy calls. Whincup was one of the chief beneficiaries, gaining an undercut over Mostert to move into second place while the Tickford Racing driver took on a higher fuel load for his middle stint which dropped him to fourth.

Third-placed van Gisbergen picked up his pace on a fresh set of tyres in his second stint. He closed down the four-second gap to Whincup and breezed past his teammate into second place on Lap 32 to begin his pursuit of McLaughlin.

McLaughlin made his second and final visit to the pits on Lap 38 – van Gisbergen followed suit a lap later – and the pair were now split by 4.5 seconds. Mostert’s longer second stint gave him the upper hand over Whincup thanks to a shorter second pit stop, moving him into third position to split the Red Bull Holdens.

Van Gisbergen began to eat into McLaughlin’s lead in the final stint and with ten laps to go they were separated by just 1.5 seconds. After a further five laps the gap between them was just 0.5 seconds as McLaughlin struggled to deal with an increasingly understeering car, setting the stage for a grandstand run to the finish line.

Van Gisbergen applied the blowtorch but found McLaughlin’s defences up to the task, with the Shell-sponsored Ford claiming a narrow victory.

“That was hard, Shane just pushed me the whole way, coming and coming and coming,” a relieved McLaughlin said after the race. “[My car] was pushing like a bus or a truck, it just had no turn in it. But it was an awesome battle, we always have good battles.”

Van Gisbergen added: “I don’t like coming second, but that was an awesome race. My car was awesome today, I tried as hard as I could. I knew we had a lot of adjustment in the roll bars. I was worried about how we qualified it, but a quick tune up and we were away.”

Mostert finished a distant third, equalling his result from Saturday’s race, with Whincup a further seven seconds adrift in fourth place. Will Davison backed up his Saturday pace with fifth place in his Tickford-run 23Red Racing Ford, ahead of fellow Tickford runner Cameron Waters.

Kelly Racing duo Andre Heimgartner and Rick Kelly finished seventh and eighth respectively in their Nissan Altimas, while the Holdens of Nick Percat (Brad Jones Racing) and Mark Winterbottom (CS Racing) completed the top ten.

While McLaughlin celebrated another victory on his seemingly unstoppable march to a successful defence of his Drivers’ Championship crown, teammate Fabian Coulthard had a birthday to forget with a poor race. He came off worse in a clash with the Erebus Holden of Anton de Pasquale on Lap 9, which sent him spinning off the circuit and a lowly 18th-placed finish.

2019 Australian Supercars Championship Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint – Race 20 Final Classification (65 laps)
Pos Driver Team Result
1. Scott McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team 1:18:18.380
2. Shane van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing + 0.701
3. Chaz Mostert Supercheap Auto Racing + 10.647
4. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing + 17.225
5. Will Davison Milwaukee Racing + 18.033
6. Cameron Waters Monster Energy Racing + 37.485
7. Andre Heimgartner Kelly Racing Plus Fitness Racing + 45.319
8. Rick Kelly Kelly Racing Castrol Racing + 45.536
9. Nick Percat Hare & Forbes Racing + 47.085
10. Mark Winterbottom Irwin Racing + 47.520
11. Anton de Pasquale Penrite Racing + 48.207
12. James Courtney Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 MEGA Racing + 50.994
13. Todd Hazelwood Bigmate Racing + 55.324
14. Lee Holdsworth The Bottle-O Racing + 55.516
15. James Golding Boost Mobile Racing + 56.706
16. Scott Pye Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 MEGA Racing + 1:10.626
17. Tim Slade Freightliner Racing + 1:10.993
18. Fabian Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team + 1:11.350
19. Simona de Silvestro Kelly Racing Team Harvey Norman + 1:11.819
20. Michael Caruso Boost Mobile Racing + 1:11.991
21. David Reynolds Penrite Racing 1 lap behind
22. Macauley Jones Team CoolDrive 1 lap behind
23. Jack Le Brocq Truck Assist TEKNO 2 laps behind
Pos Not Classified Team Reason
DNF. Garry Jacobson Kelly Racing Racing Engine

Post-Race Penalties:

  • Scott McLaughlin was fined $10,000 for displaying a non-permitted item on the podium and a further $3,000 for performing a burn-out beyond the nominated point on the circuit.
  • Triple Eight Race Engineering was fined $10,000 and deducted 50 Teams’ Championship points for an incorrect location of their refuelling tower.
  • Tickford Racing was fined $20,000 and deducted 100 Teams’ Championship points for an incorrect location of their refuelling tower. The fine and points’ deduction were split between Tickford Racing’s two pairs of entries.

Image via DJR Team Penske

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Geoff Burke

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