As Scott McLaughlin secures two wins at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, he has extended the lead in the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Scott McLaughlin secures two wins at WD-40 Phillip Island 500
It rounded out a near perfect weekend for the New Zealand driver, as his DJR Team Penske Ford ran an exemplary round, from a drivers perspective.
Coming into the weekend 11 points behind on the championship standings, McLaughlin has now taken a 60 point lead, heading to the Perth Supersprint in two weeks time.
— Supercars (@supercars) April 22, 2018
The speed which the Ford driver brought to the track, has given him a massive haul of championship points. It also builds his confidence, after only winning the one race so far in 2018.
“We had an awesome rocket ship all weekend”. This was the immediate reaction of the driver, when he finished the second race.
“I’ll worry about that later. Everyone knows I have to be consistent all year,” was the answer from McLaughlin, when questioned if he thought his season was heading towards a title. Coming into the weekend, McLaughlin had a small margin, but that has been extended after two straight wins. 300 championship points was a massive gain by any standards.
“For Scott McLaughlin around here [Phillip Island] he’s got the magic potion.”
He continues a strong history of racing at the Phillip Island; with Gary Rogers Motorsport, before joining the Shell V-Power team. Six consecutive pole positions, shows he is very much at home at the picturesque track. Wins in 2016 in the Volvo S60 that matched his success over the weekend, improved on 2017. Qualifying well with pole position, but tyre failures ruined both races.
— Scott McLaughlin (@smclaughlin93) April 22, 2018
The balance of cars on the podium, on both days of the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, would also be pleasing for the championship. A Ford, Holden and an Nissan Altima is a good reflection of the line-up. Rick Kelly joined Scott McLaughlin, in securing a podium finish on both days.
Race 9 opens great weekend for Shell V-Power cars
Observers would have seen that this weekend was about the drivers that makes the least errors. For DJR Team Penske, the mistakes were limited. Having the speed on the track; with a Ford 1-2 in qualifying but, they also benefited by good strategy.
On Saturday, Jamie Whincup won the start. He overtook the Ford, to put his Red Bull Holden at the head of the field. Then, in the second pitstop, the two cars pitted at the same moment, with Whincup managing to squeeze past Scott McLaughlin, and it then required some fine driving from the Kiwi, to overtake the seven-time Super cars champion, and win Race 9.
Note: Whincup was subsequently penalized for a pitlane infringement. That handed a 38-second penalty – the equivalent of a drive-through – for turning off his pitlane speed limiter, before exiting the lane on his first stop.
Good strategy and highly skilled passing benefits DJR Team Penske
From the start of Race 10 on Sunday, it seemed like Scott Mclaughlin had his game face on. Leading away in the early stages, that all changed when the ‘Safety Car’ made an entry. Virtually all cars pitted, and unfortunately, when released McLaughlin had to cede to other cars.
That mistake aside, he soon found himself in a strong position. And the team strategy to pit on lap 28 was almost perfect. His nearest rival Dave Reynolds of Erebus Penrite Racing came out and was under threat from McLaughlin immediately.
Surviving an initial attack, it was only three laps later, before Scott McLaughlin executed a mirror overtaking move, that had promoted him on Saturday.
— Supercars (@supercars) April 22, 2018
Highly skilled passing and driving were the keys to McLaughlin’s success at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500. Like Shane van Gisbergen had in Adelaide, two wins is the perfect dose for any championship campaign.
Nissan enjoys fantastic result for Rick Kelly
Grinning like a teenager, Rick Kelly was twice on the podium this weekend. The Nissan team co-owner had speed and an aero-package that suited the high speed circuit.
Qualifying in the top ten, Kelly and team mate Michael Caruso were both in the running. Rick managed to finish on the track in third place Saturday, only to be promoted in second, with the time penalty applied to Whincup.
And on Sunday, Rick Kelly lead the race for a good period, as a positive strategy earned him a position to show the high-speed that the Nissan Altimo can produce. Overtaken in the pitlane, he still managed to bring his Castrol Nissan home in third. Caruso followed that, crossing the line in fifth for a terrific weekend’s result for the Nissan Motorsport team.
The teams now take a fortnight, to prepare for the Perth Supersprint weekend.
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