McLaughlin comes within a whisker of victory in V8 Supercars

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

In a week when Volvo announced they will not continue in the V8 Supercars Championship, their star Kiwi driver Scott McLaughlin came within a whisker of what would have been a memorable win at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth.

McLaughlin, Saturday’s winner Craig Lowndes and fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen used a three-stop strategy to catch current V8 Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom with two laps remaining in the 200km race.

With tyres used up after just two-stops, Winterbottom managed to hold off the charge from McLaughlin to win ahead of the charging trio.

“The team gave me an awesome strategy and got me right there but when I got to Frosty (Winterbottom) I had nothing left. Damn it, it was so close,” said McLaughlin

“It’s been a hard week,” he said in reference to the Volvo announcement. “A lot of people have talked about where I am going but this weekend is for the team and I am glad I am with this team. They rally behind you like no other and all I had to do was be a leader and we got there in the end so I am stoked.”

The two New Zealand drivers remain in a tight battle for the championship, now led by Lowndes, with McLaughlin third and van Gisbergen fifth, only 91 points from the lead.

“It was cool to see the different strategies working. For me having a good car here was awesome. I pushed the whole way and had good battles and good passes,” van Gisbergen said.

“I pushed too hard too early and caught up to them but had nothing left and dropped away. But fourth is alright and good points so I am happy-as.”

On Saturday Lowndes’ Red Bull Racing team opted for a fresh set of tyres and an extra stop to haul in an 18-second gap to win the race ahead of van Gisbergen.

Armed with that information, most teams opted for a three-stop strategy to utilise tyres late in the race. While the catcher prospered on Saturday, today they came up just short in an exciting battle.

“I thought we were in trouble before the race with a set of tyres short,” said Winterbottom, who was forced to use an extra set after a driver error on Saturday.

“That’s awesome after yesterday when I drove absolutely horribly and I hope I have redeemed something.”

Winterbottom thought he had lost the race when a lapped car passed him with four laps remaining, with the manoeuvre costing the Ford driver valuable time.

“By the time they caught me they were no longer on new tyres and I fought hard to the end. Scotty (McLaughlin) drove hard but clean and was probably nice to me. It is good to get a first win for the year.”

Of the other Kiwis today, Chris Pither showed remarkable speed to qualify eighth for the Super Black Racing all-New Zealand team, although tailed off at the end to finish 14th, just ahead of the Team Penske Ford of Fabian Coulthard who was slightly off the pace throughout the weekend. Andre Heimgartner finished 25th for Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.

After nine races Lowndes leads the championship on 894 from teammate Jaime Whincup on 852, McLaughlin 846, Winterbottom 816 and van Gisbergen 803. Coulthard is in 115th place, Pither 24th and Heimgartner 25th.

The next stop is at Winton in Victoria on 20-22 May, with tickets also on sale for the sole New Zealand round of the series, the ITM Auckland SuperSprint on 4-6 November.

 

Also see – Race 1

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