Scott McLaughlin has laid down the perfect drive to win the first race of the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend, further extending his championship lead as the Supercars season inches towards the finale at Bathurst.
McLaughlin, from Shell V-Power Racing, started his Ford Mustang on pole position, led the field at the first turn and never surrendered top spot during the 31-lap race.
Behind him the fight for the minor podium positions provided most of the on-track entertainment as Jack Le Brocq, Cameron Waters and Shane van Gisbergen ran three-wide up to the first turn, with Le Brocq gaining two spots to emerge the victor in that battle after starting in fourth.
But it was van Gisbergen, from the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, who took second place at the end of the race, opting for a long first stint and using his fresher tyres at the end to catch up to McLaughlin.
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Scott McLaughlin was never headed after starting on pole in race one at The Bend. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The Holden Commodore driver finished just 0.6 seconds behind the winner. Waters passed the chequered flag in third, six seconds after the front two.
“Scott was just too good,” van Gisbergen said. “I couldn’t get close enough to get a lunge.”
McLaughlin said he thought an early pit stop might have been a wrong move by his team so made sure he completed a few “perfect laps” to ensure he had the tyre life to hold off the competition.
“Shane was coming at me pretty hard there,” he said of the final laps of the race.
“I just looked after my stuff after we got out of pit lane.
“At the end of the day, I was able to hold him off.”
Race 28 of the Supercars season was run on The Bend Motorsport Park’s west circuit for the first time, with Turn 6 expected to be the location for carnage on the first lap if drivers sought to gain early positions with a dive on their competitors.
Scott McLaughlin tightened his grip on the drivers’ championship with another dominant win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
But the 24 members of the field maintained heads as cool as the weather, with no serious incidents during the race.
McLaughlin’s main championship competitor, Jamie Whincup, also of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, started the race in 14th position, after one of the closest Top 15 Shootouts in Supercars history.
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All 15 drivers scored a 1:15min lap time, with Whincup seven-tenths of a second off McLaughlin’s pace.
Whincup managed to claw back four positions during the race to finish in 10th but is now 263 points away from McLaughlin in the championship standings.
Two 32-lap races will be held on Sunday to complete the OTR SuperSprint.
If McLaughlin finishes several positions in front of Whincup in each race, he could leave South Australia as the 2020 champion.
Originally published asMcLaughlin sprints to wrap up title at The Bend
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