It’s a second win of the weekend for Kiwi drivers as Scott McLaughlin overcame an early challenge from Jamie Whincup to score an emphatic victory in Race 12 at the CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown.
McLaughlin made no mistakes and a fourth win from the last six races sees him move from third to second in the standings, closing to within 10 points of championship leading Shell V-Power team-mate Fabian Coulthard.
Coulthard trailed home Shane van Gisbergen to be fourth in a 200km race dominated by heavyweight teams Shell V-Power and the Red Bull HRT.
“What an awesome team I’ve got here behind me at the Shell V-Power Racing Team,” commented McLaughlin. “I was so stoked to get pole earlier today in the Shootout – I love qualifying as it’s everyone’s maximum. Everything they’ve got.
“I didn’t get a great start today, but good strategy helped me get it back. I drove as hard as I could, and we got the win. I couldn’t be happier.”
Whincup had taken the lead off the start, showing pole-sitter McLaughlin and Coulthard the way in the opening laps.
Coulthard made an early first stop on lap five of 70 and, after Whincup and McLaughlin pitted on laps 16 and 17 respectively, jumped to the lead.
The championship leader couldn’t hold the track position on older tyres, however, yielding to Whincup and eventually McLaughlin during the middle stint.
Coulthard’s mid-race struggle for pace ensured he was jumped by van Gisbergen in the second stops, setting up an absorbing battle between the Kiwis.
Despite lacking outright speed, van Gisbergen hung on and eventually pulled away as Coulthard’s car again faded as the stint went on.
Still, a race devoid of Safety Cars could not hide the reigning champion’s lack of pace – ending up over 20 seconds behind team-mate Whincup.
“The guys did a lot of work overnight to fix the car,” commented van Gisbergin. “It was mechanically sound, but still we have some issues there that we have been chasing all weekend.
“ We overhauled the car again after the shootout, but it was good to make the shootout even though we had so many problems, so we were happy with that.
“In the race we had the same issues and no traction also. The car was still fast, but again, horrible to drive, so to salvage a third was great.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Fabian Coulthard 1330
2 Scott McLaughlin 1320
3 Jamie Whincup 1314
4 Shane van Gisbergen 1152
5 Chaz Mostert 1026
6 Mark Winterbottom 924
7 Craig Lowndes 924
8 David Reynolds 903
9 Cameron Waters 889
10 Garth Tander 888
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1 Shell V-Power Racing Team 2685
2 Triple Eight Race Engineering (Van Gisbergen/Whincup) 2466
3 Prodrive Racing Australia (Winterbottom/Waters) 1848
4 Garry Rogers Motorsport 1614
5 Brad Jones Racing 1314
6 Erebus Motorsport 1308
7 Nissan Motorsport (R. Kelly/T. Kelly) 1236
8 HSV Racing 1206
9 Nissan NISMO (Caruso/De Silvestro) 1116
10 Prodrive Racing Australia (Mostert) 1026