McLaughlin leads Shell Ford domination in Race 7
- By Stefan Bartholomaeus
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Scott McLaughlin scored his first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race win for Shell V-Power Racing in front of team owner Roger Penske at Barbagallo.
In a dominant performance from the Shell Falcons, McLaughlin finally converted his early season speed into victory in the 120km Race 7 ahead of team-mate Fabian Coulthard.
McLaughlin had won the start from pole-sitter Coulthard, with the Shell Fords charging into the distance during the early laps of what was always going to be a tyre economy race.
The Falcons had a staggering seven seconds on third placed Shane van Gisbergen by lap 11 of 50, when the Kiwi elected to let team-mate Jamie Whincup through.
Coulthard shadowed McLaughlin through the early stages, but dropped 3.5s from the lead by the time he stopped on lap 22.
McLaughlin responded by pitting on the next lap and only narrowly remained ahead of his team-mate due to the strength of the undercut.
The team-mates marched on to the chequered flag, with McLaughlin ending up 1.3s ahead at the finish.
“It’s been a long time coming for me to be at a race track here and winning like this,” said Roger Penske.
“It’s a tremendous effort from our team. We’re showing the kind of team we are here and in the US.”
Whincup held third through the pitstop cycle and completed the podium, 7.5s adrift of the Shell Fords.
Van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom were fourth and fifth after both going longer than their key rivals in the first stint, trading tack position for the benefit of fresher rubber in the closing stages.
Chaz Mostert was the first front-runner to stop and proved unable to hold off van Gisbergen and Winterbottom late in the second stint, dropping to sixth.
Craig Lowndes got the better of Will Davison in an intense battle for seventh ahead of David Reynolds and Garth Tander.
James Courtney improved from 24th on the grid to 17th, leading home a tight battle with Michael Caruso, Scott Pye and Cameron Waters that saw the four cars separated by less than 0.2s.
CLICK HERE for the full Race 7 result.