Shane van Gisbergen held off his Red Bull Holden Racing teammate Jamie Whincup to take out the second leg of the Watpac Townsville 400.
After his second placing on Saturday, van Gisbergen has now closed the gap to championship leader and fellow kiwi Scott McLaughlin to 131 points at the midpoint of the season.
Van Gisbergen led the first and third stints but played second-fiddle to Whincup for most of the middle phase of the 200km race. He put a key move on Whincup for the lead with 27 of the 70 laps to go, and the Kiwi ultimately prevailed after a late Safety Car period.
The 2016 champion’s third win of the campaign is his first since taking a double in the Adelaide season opener.
McLaughlin, who qualified back in seventh and fell back to 11th early, grabbed the podium after superb pitstop strategy to maintain his championship lead over van Gisbergen.
Today’s result follows a Whincup-led one-two finish for the Red Bull HRT in Saturday’s 200km race.
“Our cars have been awesome all weekend and it’s a good personal day for the #97 crew,” van Gisbergen said. “They turned our car around, qualifying and race, and we came out on top. As a team, a double-one two is awesome.”
Van Gisbergen made the most of starting from pole, keeping the lead off the line as Whincup and McLaughlin fell to fourth and 11th, from second and seventh.
McLaughlin got back up to ninth before making the race’s first pitstop on lap 13, with a shorter fuel fill in a bid to get clean air.
Van Gisbergen stayed out until lap 24 and came out behind both Whincup and McLaughlin, but with his tyres dropping off, McLaughlin was unable to stay with the top two.
Whincup’s lead was cut as the tyre strategies played out in the second stint, and van Gisbergen made a pass for the lead as they navigated lapped traffic on lap 43.
The Safety Car came out when Michael Caruso’s Nissan was fired into the tyre bundles but van Gisbergen was able to hold off a late charge from his teammate after the restart over the remaining five laps, while McLaughlin prevailed over Craig Lowndes, who was chasing a podium in his final appearance at Townsville.
“The crew gave me an awesome strategy and the tyre life was fantastic,” McLaughlin said. “I didn’t get the best start and lost a few places, but I’ll take third after today. It’s a win for us.”
Reynolds looked set to bring his Penrite Commodore home in fifth but lost that place to Chaz Mostert after the restart.
Behind Mostert and Reynolds, Kelly took seventh and Fabian Coulthard came from 18th to finish eighth.
McLaughlin remains in the lead on 2033 points from van Gisbergen 1902 with Fabian Coulthard leading the rest of the Kiwi drivers in sixth from Andre Heimgartner 18th and Richie Stanaway 26th.
The 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint on July 20-22, with the sole New Zealand stop in the championship , the ITM Auckland SuperSprint set for Pukekohe Park Raceway on 2-4 November.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Scott McLaughlin 2033
2. Shane Van Gisbergen 1902 -131
3. David Reynolds 1646 -387
4. Jamie Whincup 1630 -403
5. Craig Lowndes 1602 -431
6. Fabian Coulthard 1430 -603
7. Scott Pye 1384 -649
8. Rick Kelly 1372 -661
9. Chaz Mostert 1286 -747
10. Tim Slade 1236 -797
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Triple Eight Race Engineering (Whincup/SVG) 3532
2. Shell V-Power Racing Team 3463 -69
3. Walkinshaw Andretti United 2620 -912
4. Erebus Motorsport 2497 -1035
5. Tickford Racing (Mostert/Winterbottom) 2455 -1077
6. Brad Jones Racing 2448 -1084
7. Nissan Motorsport (Kelly/Heimgartner) 2286 -1246
8. Garry Rogers Motorsport 1760 -1772
9. NISMO (Caruso/De Silvestro) 1664 -1868
10. Triple Eight Race Engineering (Lowndes) 1602 -1930