Motorsport: Shane Van Gisbergen wins Sydney night race to close in Supercars battle

Author
Dale Budge, NZ Herald,
Section
Motorsport,
Publish Date
Sunday, 5 August 2018, 7:48AM
Shane van Gisbergen triumphed at the Sydney SuperNight 300. (Photo / Getty Images)
Shane van Gisbergen triumphed at the Sydney SuperNight 300. (Photo / Getty Images)

New Zealand's Shane van Gisbergen cut into compatriot Scott McLaughlin's Supercars championship lead by winning the inaugural Sydney SuperNight 300 on Saturday night.

His victory sees Van Gisbergen close to within 89 points having been 131 behind at the start of the day.

The two leading drivers in the championship fight battled superbly lap after lap late in the race as the 2016 champion, on slightly younger tyres, fought to make his way past the Shell V-Power racer.

McLaughlin held him off lap after lap before Van Gisbergen finally pounced on the smallest of openings.

Once in the clear, Van Gisbergen bolted while Red Bull Holden Racing teammate Whincup started pouring the pressure on McLaughlin and made the pass with three laps to go to ensure the Holden cars finished one-two.

McLaughlin minimised the damage by completing the podium with veteran Craig Lowndes fourth and Ford's Chaz Mostert fifth.

A safety car came with 18 laps remaining and that was the ticket for the Red Bull Holden outfit.

McLaughlin and Craig Lowndes had already taken their final stops so it brought Van Gisbergen right into the hunt and while Whincup had to double stack he was able to get the time back behind the safety car.

Fabian Coulthard ended up 11th having started alongside McLaughlin on the front row.

Richie Stanaway was 21st while Andre Heimgartner's race was ruined with an early mechanical failure.

"It took a long time for that race to come alive – it was pretty stale and the safety car came out and it was awesome," Van Gisbergen said.

"Scotty was driving really well, he defended awesomely. I gave him a couple of bumps and he wasn't fazed. Unfortunately I think he had some pick up and we got back through.

"A really awesome weekend."

McLaughlin cut a dejected figure after the race after it looked like he had the race under control with 20 laps remaining.

Despite the disappointment, McLaughlin still holds a healthy lead in the standings.

"I tried so hard to keep them behind," McLaughlin said. "Great strategy call by them – well done to Shane and well done to Jamie and sorry to the Ford fans that I couldn't get it done for you. I am absolutely gutted.

"We had a great car today; I have a great team, great pit stops, great strategy but unfortunately that safety car came at the wrong time.

"I am stoked, a good point's day and we will move on."

The championship moves to new South Australian track Bend Motorsport Park in three weeks.

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