714 days later: Sydney's last night race

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/10/2021
  • By James Pavey

In exactly two weeks, drivers and teams will be readying for the first race since cars crossed the line in Townsville in July.

Race 20 at the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight will be the first race in over 100 days.

It will also be the first night race since last July, also at Sydney Motorsport Park, and just the 13th night race in ATCC/Supercars history.

So, what happened in the last Supercars race under lights?

The Eastern Creek venue hosted its second straight event in 2020, with Sydney Motorsport Park helping restart the 2020 season.

It was the sixth race of the season, with Scott McLaughlin scoring his fourth victory of 2020.

It was the first night race in 441 days, since Perth in 2019, and first the night race in Sydney in 714 days.

The Sydney events in 2020 featuring mixed compound racing, with varying tyre strategies opening the door to some mixed results.

Pole man McLaughlin started on the hard tyre, and dropped behind soft runners Shane van Gisbergen, Cameron Waters, Lee Holdsworth and Anton De Pasquale in the early laps.

A move to softs at his stop paid dividends for McLaughlin, who claimed victory and took another step towards his third straight drivers’ title.

However, his run to victory wasn’t that simple, and the challenge from behind came from an unlikely source.

In fact, Holdsworth loomed to break a six-year winless drought when he emerged ahead of McLaughlin on lap 14, before the latter battled past.

McLaughlin had stopped on lap 10, and emerged in the lead once the pit stop cycle shook out 12 laps later.

Holdsworth had opted to fit a second set of soft tyres, but didn’t have enough pace to keep McLaughlin behind.

Still, Holdsworth kept McLaughlin honest in the closing laps and crossed the line just over a second behind.

Erebus Motorsport driver De Pasquale was also on the soft-soft strategy, and brought home a third career podium.

McLaughlin was able to save a set of softs for Sunday’s action, and scored a podium in the thrilling first race of the day won by Nick Percat.

McLaughlin had started the race on pole, again on hard tyres; after falling back, he carved through from fifth to third on the final tour.

His charge included a thrilling dash to the line to steal a podium place from James Courtney.

The Saturday night race also featured a late battle between Triple Eight teammates van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup, who ended up fourth and fifth.

The teammates ran opposing tyre strategies; van Gisbergen led the opening 20 laps on softs before switching to hards.

The Kiwi rejoined the race behind the top three, but didn’t have enough grip to keep pace.

Whincup fought past van Gisbergen, only for the latter to take the place back on the final lap.

It marked McLaughlin’s second straight night race win, having won the second race in Perth in 2019. He also finished third in the 2018 Sydney night race.

Van Gisbergen had won the 300km night race in Sydney in 2018, with Whincup winning three of the four night races in Abu Dhabi in 2010 and 2011.

Night action will return on October 29 with second practice at the Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight.

Sydney Motorsport Park will host four straight events.

Tickets for all four Sydney events are on sale now.

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