Young stars shine at SMP
- By V8 Supercars
- Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Before today, Scott McLaughlin had earned six ARMOR ALL Pole Positions this season, and he had only converted one to a win.
The young gun once again lined his Volvo up on the first spot on the grid - and this time, he crossed the line first, but only by the smallest of margins.
The 21-year old led 26-year old rookie Nick Percat home at the Sydney Motorsport Park 400 by just 0.36 seconds, the stars of the future once again shining bright.
Carnage on the first lap caused chaos, with Mark Winterbottom eventually earning a drive through penalty for a nudge on stablemate David Reynolds, who tapped Scott Pye into the wall. Both Falcons were left with huge damage.
Cars dove into pit lane, to take on fuel and a change off Dunlop soft tyres (after four started on them) and the strategy game was already in play.
With Winterbottom at the back of the field the Championship picture looked bleak with James Courtney suffering a transaxle issue, and losing a bank of points as he pulled the HRT Commodore to the side of the circuit from second position.
Craig Lowndes, who started at the very back of the field, clawed his way through the pack - to eventually finish ninth and earn some handy Championship points.
Meanwhile Championship leader Jamie Whincup was unusually quiet in the race, finishing fifth behind James Moffat after a strong battle with Jason Bright in the closing stages.
But all the focus was on the top two.
Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard tried to bring it to HHA's Percat in the closing stages, but dropped away as the 2011 Bathurst winner chased down the bright blue Volvo, with all focus on nabbing his first solo Championship win.
But he ran out of laps as 21- year old McLaughlin held on, yesterday's disaster at Sydney Motorsport Park miles behind him.
"Fantastic, it's a massive achievement for us. To get a Sunday win we've been pushing and we only did it by a small margin," McLaughlin said.
"I could see him (Percat), the lights were on..."
Both McLaughlin and Percat seemed a touch emotional on the podium -Percat having told v8supercars.com.au recently how much a podium would mean to him.
"Alex (Somerset, engineer) was on the radio with six to go said 'he's having a struggle, push on if you've got anything left'. I was conserving the softs, then they said get on with it so I had a bit of a crack!" Percat said.
"Friday the car wasn't great, but we turned it around."
Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard, who was looking vulnerable to dropping out of the top five in the Championship, also stood on the podium.
"It was good. I came at Nick a little bit there at the start of the stint, but our tyres couldn't hang on... the Lockwood Commodore was really good," he said.
Behind him was Nissan's James Moffat, Whincup, Bright, yesterday's winner Shane van Gisbergen, Michael Caruso, Lowndes and Chaz Mostert.
Others to note include first Erebus Will Davison, and Garth Tander 18 after a last lap drama.
Click here for full results.
We now head to the Pirtek Enduro Cup, where teams will adopt co-drivers to complete the long distance races. The first of the three events is the Wilson Security Sandown 500, from September 12-14.