Scott McLaughlin has capped off a perfect weekend at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, winning this afternoon’s 250km race in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
As was the case yesterday, McLaughlin had to make an inch-perfect passing move at high-speed to claim the race lead, but as he did yesterday, the 24-year old kept his cool to make it two pole positions and two wins for the weekend.
“It’s a big relief in many ways, to be able to convert a good car and good qualifying performance into two wins for this weekend,” commented McLaughlin. “Being able to take maximum points is awesome, and sets us up for the remainder of the year.
“We’re not counting any chickens yet, though. There’s a long way to go. We’ve got those orange numbers on the No.17, and now we’ve got to keep them.”
Second today was reigning Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 Champion David Reynolds while Nissan’s Rick Kelly, who returned to the podium yesterday, claimed third to make it another Ford-Holden-Nissan podium.
McLaughlin’s Shell V-Power Racing teammate Fabian Coulthard was fourth ahead of Nissan’s Michael Caruso, Craig Lowndes, Chaz Mostert and Shane van Gisbergen.
Defending Supercars Champion and seven-time title winner Jamie Whincup finished ninth. “The car was on edge in qualifying, really hard to drive, and when it’s on a knife-edge that’s when things go wrong and I just went a bit wide at turn four. It was a tough weekend all round. We seriously lacked grip.”
McLaughlin had the perfect start from pole, edging his Falcon past Reynolds to lead the pack into the first corner.
At the front in the mid-part of the race, Kelly looked strong and managed to pull away to a three-second lead over Reynolds, while his Nissan teammate Caruso was able to hold off McLaughlin.
That was until midway point of the race where McLaughlin surprised the race leaders by pitting for a quick tyre change and refuel.
Reynolds reacted first and pitted a lap later. He re-joined in front of McLaughlin and was able to maintain the lead until McLaughlin made his move with 25 laps remaining.
In almost the identical move he made yesterday to overtake Jamie Whincup for the race lead, McLaughlin dived down the inside on turn two as both drivers fought for position at high-speed.
From there McLaughlin was able to hold on to claim his third race win of 2018 and sixth at Phillip Island since 2014.
He now holds a 60-point lead in the championship over Reynolds. Van Gisbergen is third ahead of Lowndes, with Whincup trailing 142 points behind McLaughlin in fifth, after entering the weekend as the points leader.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will now make its way across the country to Western Australia, for the Perth SuperSprint which will run from 4-6 May.
DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Scott McLaughlin 947
2. David Reynolds 887
3. Shane van Gisbergen 849
4. Craig Lowndes 813
5. Jamie Whincup 805
6. Scott Pye 745
7. Chaz Mostert 695
8. James Courtney 678
9. Fabian Coulthard 662
10. Tim Slade 626
TEAMS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS
1. Triple Eight Race Engineering 1654
2. Shell V-Power Racing Team 1609
3. Walkinshaw Andretti United 1423
4. Erebus Motorsport 1294
5. Tickford Racing (Winterbottom/Mostert) 1282
6. Brad Jones Racing 1224
7. Nissan Motorsport (Kelly/Heimgartner) 1005
8. Garry Rogers Motorsport 902
9. Nissan NISMO (Caruso/De Silvestro) 851
10. Triple Eight Race Engineering (Lowndes) 813