Scott McLaughlin claimed an important win in the final race of the first Townsville SuperSprint double-header to extend his lead over Jamie Whincup in the Supercars Championship standings.
The DJR Team Penske star had seen his points lead over the Red Bull Holden Racing driver reduced thanks to Whincup’s back-to-back wins and his own poor qualifying performances in the opening two races at the Red Park street circuit.
Qualifying in pole position for the final race of the weekend ensured that he could further limit the damage, and McLaughlin duly converted that into the lead of the race when the lights went out.
McLaughlin lead the field into the at times tricky Turn 2 right-hander, while behind him a fast-starting Nick Percat threw his BJR Holden into second place ahead of Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters and Whincup.
Percat’s hold on second place would be brief, however, as on the very next lap Waters retook the place at Turn 2 and set about closing down race leader McLaughlin.
The gap between the pair hovered at around one second throughout their opening stint before Waters tried an undercut by pitting before McLaughlin on Lap 16.
The New Zealander attempted to cover by making his compulsory pit stop on the very next lap – opting to change three tyres in contrast to Waters’ four-tyre swap – and emerged back in front when he rejoined the circuit.
Waters was definitely the quicker of the two early on in their second stint, tucking up behind McLaughlin’s rear wing and occasionally looking a threat to pass the double champion at Turn 2.
McLaughlin was resolute but fair in his defence, perfectly positioning his Ford Mustang to prevent any attack. Waters eventually worked his tyres too hard and fell back in the final laps, with the margin between the pair blowing out to 4.1 seconds by the end of the 39-lap race.
Whincup capped off an excellent weekend to claim third place on top of his two earlier wins, opting to run a long first stint and then change only his rear tyres during his compulsory pit stop. While he lost ground to McLaughlin in terms of championship points at the end of this race, his net improvement amounted to 54 points to trim McLaughlin’s overall lead from 177 to 123 points.
Brad Jones Racing duo Nick Percat and Todd Hazelwood atoned for an at times challenging weekend for the privateer squad, claiming fourth and fifth respectively.
Sixth place went to Team 18’s Scott Pye, who once again had to run a long opening stint after qualifying poorly in his Holden. His superior pace in the closing laps helped him gain valuable positions while his rivals struggled on comparatively older rubber.
Anton de Pasquale (Erebus Holden), Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Holden Racing), Lee Holdsworth (Tickford Racing Ford) and Mark Winterbottom (Team 18 Holden) completed the top ten.
The series will remain in Townsville next weekend, where another trio of races will take place.
|2020 Australian Supercars Championship Townsville SuperSprint I – Race 21 Final Classification (39 laps)|
|1.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||49:14.657|
|2.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 4.160|
|3.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 5.913|
|4.||Nick Percat||R&J Batteries||+ 12.519|
|5.||Todd Hazelwood||Team Black Duck||+ 14.361|
|6.||Scott Pye||DEWALT Racing||+ 16.106|
|7.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 27.536|
|8.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 28.803|
|9.||Lee Holdsworth||Truck Assist Racing||+ 30.103|
|10.||Mark Winterbottom||IRWIN Racing||+ 34.704|
|11.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 36.073|
|12.||Bryce Fullwood||Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing||+ 38.082|
|13.||James Courtney||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 38.271|
|14.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||+ 42.511|
|15.||Andre Heimgartner||NED Whisky Racing||+ 42.839|
|16.||Jack Le Brocq||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 43.793|
|17.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 48.414|
|18.||Garry Jacobson||Yellow Cover Racing||+ 48.445|
|19.||Zane Goddard||UNIT Racing||+ 50.606|
|20.||Alex Davison||Local Legends Racing||+ 50.975|
|21.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||+ 52.141|
|22.||Jack Smith||SCT Motor Sports||+ 54.665|
|23.||Chris Pither||Team SYDNEY||+ 58.848|
|24.||Chaz Mostert||Mobil 1 TM Appliances||+ 1:11.319|
Image via Motorsport.com
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