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The Bend Supercars: McLaughlin wins tense opener

Scott McLaughlin held off Shane van Gisbergen to win a tense opening Supercars race at The Bend.

Race winner Scott McLaughlin, DJR Team Penske Ford

Photo by: Edge Photographics

The DJR Team Penske driver made light work of the start, storming into the lead from pole ahead of Jack Le Brocq and van Gisbergen.

Le Brocq kept McLaughlin honest across a short first stint, too, before diving into the pits to try and undercut the leader on Lap 6.

It didn't work, McLaughlin stopping a lap later to cover Le Brocq off, but it didn't inadvertently bring van Gisbergen into the game.

As usual the Triple Eight crew decided to run long with the #97, van Gisbergen not taking his mandatory service until Lap 15. He resumed in second place and, with fresher rear tyres, was able to quickly slash McLaughlin's three-second lead down to a few tenths.

But that was as close as he could get, McLaughlin holding his nerve with mirrors full of van Gisbergen to take a 12th victory of the season, and 55th of his career to match Garth Tander in fourth on the all-time winners list.

"Overall I'm really happy," said McLaughlin. "Shane was coming at me really hard there. I tried to leave a little bit in the bank when he was coming at me, to charge on when he really got to me. That plan worked for me."

Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, was left to rue the decision to take on new rears rather than left-hand tyres at his stop.

"I ran a bit long and did rears," he explained. "I caught Scotty but he was just too good. Maybe if we did the side [tyres] I would have had a bit more front grip. But [there was] a bit of aero wash and he was putting the car perfectly, I couldn't even get close enough to have a lunge."

Cam Waters finished a lonely third, having benefited from some bad luck from teammate Le Brocq, whose Tickford Ford coughed on the way out of Turn 6 not long after his stop.

That helped Waters close the gap, before taking the final spot on the podium from Le Brocq on Lap 16.

In terms of the title fight, Jamie Whincup dropped more points with a relatively lowly 10th place finish. The T8 driver made good initial progress, going from 14th on the grid to 11th on the first lap, but ultimately found himself stuck in the middle of a three-car train with Fabian Coulthard and Chaz Mostert.

McLaughlin now holds a 263-point advantage over Whincup, with 300 the magic number for the Kiwi to seal a third-straight title this weekend.

Race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 17 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT  
2 97 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 0.647
3 6 Australia Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 6.419
4 55 Australia Jack Le Brocq Ford Mustang GT 11.301
5 99 Australia Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 13.015
6 8 Australia Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 13.771
7 44 Australia James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 20.987
8 18 Australia Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 21.855
9 12 New Zealand Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 22.898
10 88 Australia Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 23.233
11 25 Australia Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 23.566
12 20 Australia Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 26.238
13 5 Australia Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 26.574
14 7 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner Ford Mustang GT 29.331
15 2 Australia Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 29.725
16 9 Australia David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 30.857
17 3 Australia Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 32.103
18 35 Australia Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB 33.220
19 14 Australia Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 33.479
20 22 New Zealand Chris Pither Holden Commodore ZB 43.317
21 4 Australia Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 51.065
22 19 Australia Alex Davison Holden Commodore ZB 51.630
23 15 Australia Rick Kelly Ford Mustang GT 51.853
  34 Australia Jake Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 26 Laps

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