Pukekohe Supercars: Whincup wins tense second race

Jamie Whincup won a tense battle with Supercars title rival Scott McLaughlin to claim Race 2 honours in New Zealand, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown in Newcastle later this month.

Pukekohe Supercars: Whincup wins tense second race
 Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
 Nick Percat, Brad Jones Racing Holden
 Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
 Lee Holdsworth, Team 18 Holden
 Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford
 Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
 Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Ford
 Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
 Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
 Michael Caruso, Nissan Motorsport

Whincup and McLaughlin ran nose-to-tail throughout the 200-kilometre race, the 5.9s gap a relative blowout given they were separated by less than two seconds for the first 50-odd laps.

The win means Whincup will take a narrow 30-point lead over McLaughlin into the season finale in Newcastle in three weeks.

The race got off to an explosive start when the three lead Prodrive Fords – running third, fourth, and fifth – tangled with each other at the hairpin at the first lap.

Cam Waters, sitting at the back of the Prodrive train behind Mark Winterbottom and title contender Chaz Mostert, appeared to kickstart the kerfuffle by tagging Winterbottom with an ambitious lunge up the inside. Winterbottom then went into the back of Mostert, those two left stranded in the middle of the track while Waters took off in third.

With all of that in their mirrors, front row starters Whincup and McLaughlin were able to bolt into a handy lead. They ran in that order until Lap 10 when McLaughlin peeled off to make his first stop, Whincup following suit a lap later and retaining the effective lead.

The battle continued through the second stint, the gap hanging around the 1.5s mark as Whincup led his chief title rival. On Lap 34 Whincup reversed the trend from the first round of stops and dived into the pits from the lead, McLaughlin doing likewise a lap later.

There was very little in it as McLaughlin emerged from the pits for a second and final time, Whincup sweeping across the front of the Penske Ford into Turn 1 to retain the lead by half a second.

As was the case in the first two stints, Whincup was unable to break away. This time the gap hung around the six-tenths mark, McLaughlin shadowing the Red Bull Holden as they worked through lapped traffic.

It wasn't until Lap 52 – 17 laps after McLaughlin's last stop – that the gap eked out to over a second for the first time. Even then it was back to eight-tenths a lap later as the tense battled waged on.

With 15 laps to go Whincup finally broke away, the gap hitting the two-second mark for the first time all race. With that small reprieve, he was able to set up a 5.9s win, helped as McLaughlin went into fuel conservation mode late in the race.

The win also secured Whincup the Jason Richards Trophy for 2017.

Waters came home third after what was a quiet race from Turn 9, Lap 1 onwards. Craig Lowndes was next, while Fabian Coulthard kept his faint title hopes alive with a solid fifth in his repaired Penske Ford.

He's now 176 points behind Whincup with 300 up for grabs in Newcastle.

Mostert needed a huge recovery drive to keep his own mathematical title chances alive, storming by the likes of Michael Caruso, Scott Pye, James Moffat, and Jason Bright inside the last 15 laps to come home seventh – a result that leaves him 258 points off the leader heading to Newcastle.

Shane van Gisbergen is now all but out of contention for the title after a horrid race.

The Kiwi was running well inside the Top 10 when he ploughed into the back of Tim Slade's BJR Commodore as the pair came into pitlane on Lap 16.

The costly error took 14 laps to fix, van Gisbergen ultimately coming home 24th. He now needs a gain of 276 points – a some sort of minor miracle – to defend his Supercars

Race 2 Results:

Cla#DriverCarTime/Gap
1 88 australia Jamie Whincup  Holden Commodore VF  1hr17m11.7118s
2 17 new_zealand Scott McLaughlin  Ford Falcon FG-X 5.9058
3 6 australia Cameron Waters  Ford Falcon FG-X 8.6595
4 888 australia Craig Lowndes  Holden Commodore VF 18.7897
5 12 new_zealand Fabian Coulthard  Ford Falcon FG/X 25.6058
6 33 australia Garth Tander  Holden Commodore VF 29.4980
7 55 australia Chaz Mostert  Ford Falcon FG-X 31.9023
8 56 australia Jason Bright  Ford Falcon FG-X 32.3788
9 34 australia James Moffat  Holden Commodore VF 38.3325
10 2 australia Scott Pye  Holden Commodore VF 39.3094
11 23 australia Michael Caruso  Nissan Altima 39.5820
12 15 australia Rick Kelly  Nissan Altima 43.9885
13 9 australia David Reynolds  Holden Commodore VF 44.3553
14 8 australia Nick Percat  Holden Commodore VF 47.2159
15 14 australia Tim Slade  Holden Commodore VF 59.0428
16 21 australia Tim Blanchard  Holden Commodore VF 59.5106
17 78 switzerland Simona de Silvestro  Nissan Altima 59.8607
18 7 australia Todd Kelly  Nissan Altima 1 lap
19 5 australia Mark Winterbottom  Ford Falcon FG-X 1 lap
20 99 australia Dale Wood  Holden Commodore VF 1 lap
21 3 australia Aaren Russell  Holden Commodore VF 1 lap
22 62 australia Jack Perkins  Holden Commodore VF 2 laps
23 19 australia Will Davison  Holden Commodore VF 3 laps
24 97 new_zealand Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 14 laps
  22 australia James Courtney  Holden Commodore VF 65 laps
  18 australia Lee Holdsworth  Holden Commodore VF 69 laps
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Pukekohe Supercars: Whincup pips McLaughlin for pole by 0.005s

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About this article

Series Supercars
Event Auckland
Location Pukekohe Park Raceway
Drivers Jamie Whincup
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
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