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Sydney Supercars: McLaughlin triumphs under lights

Sydney Supercars: McLaughlin triumphs under lights
Jul 18, 2020, 9:40 AM

Scott McLaughlin won a fascinating first Supercars race under the permanent lights at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The DJR Team Penske driver started from pole, but a decision to burn a set of hard compound Dunlops in the first stint meant he was never going to spend long out front.

After being out-braked by a softs-shod Shane van Gisbergen into Turn 2 McLaughlin dropped all the way back to sixth during his short first stint.

He stopped to switch to softs on Lap 10, emerging more than 50 seconds behind leader van Gisbergen. 

More importantly, however, he ended up in front of both Anton De Pasquale and Lee Holdsworth as the stops shook out, two drivers that gambled on a double-softs strategy in search of glory under lights.

Holdsworth's Lap 15 stop turned out to the the flashpoint of the race. He came out right in front of both McLaughlin and De Pasquale, but couldn't hold them off as he waited for his tyre temperatures to come up on his out lap.

The Tickford driver was able to swiftly get by De Pasquale and close in on McLaughlin, but the toll on the tyre life meant he couldn't mount a meaningful challenge for the effective lead.

When van Gisbergen ran too long on his softs and lost too much time changing to hards during his Lap 20 stop, McLaughlin was able to charge to victory – with a set of softs still up his sleeve for tomorrow.

"I'm really thankful I got a good start," said McLaughlin. "I was able to position a bit better. I knew [the cars on softs] were going to come at me hard. 

"And then I managed to stay with them closer than I thought. The car was so good on both compounds. 

"We stuck to our guns. We knew people were probably going to try [the softs-softs] strategy, but we trusted our car speed. I'm really proud."

Holdsworth finished second, 1.3s behind the winner, with De Pasquale just under five seconds behind the winner in third.

However both burned through both their sets of softs and now face a long two races tomorrow.

Van Gisbergen recovered to fourth after his strategic misstep, with teammate Whincup less than a second behind him, both with softs left for tomorrow.

Cam Waters finished sixth after going from softs to hards, while Fabian Coulthard was the best of the drivers that didn't use softs in the race at all in seventh.

Macauley Jones finished a solo career best eighth after going through both sets of soft tyres, followed by Brad Jones Racing teammate Nick Percat and Team 18's Mark Winterbottom.

McLaughlin's series lead is now out to 75 points over Whincup, with Chaz Mostert 194 points – almost two thirds of a round's worth – behind in third.

The result also leaves McLaughlin just one victory short of equalling the great Peter Brock on career ATCC/Supercars race wins.

Sydney Supersprint - Night race results:

Cla # Driver Car Gap
1 17 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin
Ford Mustang GT
2 5 Australia Lee Holdsworth
Ford Mustang GT 1.315
3 99 Australia Anton De Pasquale
Holden Commodore ZB 4.727
4 97 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen
Holden Commodore ZB 17.406
5 88 Australia Jamie Whincup
Holden Commodore ZB 18.278
6 6 Australia Cameron Waters
Ford Mustang GT 19.128
7 12 New Zealand Fabian Coulthard
Ford Mustang GT 24.504
8 3 Australia Macauley Jones
Holden Commodore ZB 26.136
9 8 Australia Nick Percat
Holden Commodore ZB 26.294
10 18 Australia Mark Winterbottom
Holden Commodore ZB 53.978
11 25 Australia Chaz Mostert
Holden Commodore ZB 55.464
12 20 Australia Scott Pye
Holden Commodore ZB 57.148
13 14 Australia Todd Hazelwood
Holden Commodore ZB 57.480
14 9 Australia David Reynolds
Holden Commodore ZB 58.240
15 2 Australia Bryce Fullwood
Holden Commodore ZB 58.466
16 55 Australia Jack Le Brocq
Ford Mustang GT 58.792
17 7 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner
Ford Mustang GT 1'04.567
18 15 Australia Rick Kelly
Ford Mustang GT 1'05.279
19 44 Australia James Courtney
Ford Mustang GT 1'12.926
20 19 Australia Alex Davison
Holden Commodore ZB 1'15.525
21 22 New Zealand Chris Pither
Holden Commodore ZB 1'19.407
22 35 Australia Garry Jacobson
Holden Commodore ZB 1'20.285
23 4 Australia Jack Smith
Holden Commodore ZB 1'20.480
24 34 Australia Zane Goddard
Holden Commodore ZB 1'20.642
Sydney Supercars: McLaughlin takes night race pole

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About this article

Series Supercars
Event Sydney II
Author Andrew van Leeuwen