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Supercars Sydney: van Gisbergen wins night showdown with McLaughlin

Shane van Gisbergen triumphed in a showdown with Scott McLaughlin under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park, with a late Jamie Whincup charge adding more drama to the Supercars title fight

Red Bull Holden driver van Gisbergen used a late safety car to help tip what had been a delicately-poised battle with the leading Penske Ford driver in his favour, with Whincup then giving his team-mate a helping hand in the points with a brave charge to second in the closing stages.

The win leaves the title fight between van Gisbergen and McLaughlin wide open, with the latter's advantage slashed to 89 points.

Polesitter McLaughlin made the best of the start, but his team-mate Fabian Coulthard did threaten as the pair raced towards Turn 2 on the first lap.

McLaughlin held firm on the inside line and Coulthard was passed by van Gisbergen. From there, the two title contenders ran in formation across the first stint, with McLaughlin slowly edging away.

The gap between the two was just over two-seconds when they pitted for their first stops as McLaughlin maintained the lead.

The second stint started in much the same way, but by the time they made their second stops the gap was over five seconds.

In the third stint, Craig Lowndes, who had been closing in on the leaders, led the way thanks to a short-fill during his second stop, which left him six seconds in front.

That made it a three-way battle, Lowndes looking to maintain the advantage over McLaughlin to offset a longer final stop, while van Gisbergen kept the pressure on from third.

On lap 55 of 77, Lowndes and McLaughlin made it a straight fight for the lead by pitting at the same time, with the gap between them 4.5s.

But the longer stop proved costly for Lowndes and McLaughlin emerged ahead.

Van Gisbergen circulated for another four laps, taking advantage of the race's first safety car, which was brought out by Todd Hazelwood losing his rear wing that left debris on the front straight and sent him into the Turn 1 gravel.

The stoppage itself did not hand van Gisbergen the lead, but it did mean he was right on the back of McLaughlin and Lowndes for the restart, with fresher tyres.

Van Gisbergen mugged his Triple Eight team-mate on the restart and then set after McLaughlin.

The leader went defensive as van Gisbergen desperately tried to find a way past, and they staged a thrilling battle for six laps, before van Gisbergen finally made his tyre advantage count and barged his way into the lead on lap 68.

He controlled the pace from there to take a crucial win.

To make matters even better for van Gisbergen, Whincup, who was lucky to even get going after having a flat battery before the warm-up lap, ended up second despite spending much of the race seemingly out of the game.

But the safety car worked well for him, despite initially meaning a double-stack behind van Gisbergen for his final stop, and he sat fourth in the queue.

Whincup was then able to pass Lowndes shortly after the restart, before closing up on the back of McLaughlin.

With four to go he found a way by, making it a surprise one-two for the factory Holden squad and leaving McLaughlin third.

Lowndes came home fourth after a tough run to the flag, followed by Chaz Mostert, Rick Kelly, and David Reynolds.

Results - 77 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Holden 2h04m32.2394s
2 Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Holden 0.2055s
3 Scott McLaughlin DJR Penske Ford 4.2718s
4 Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Holden 5.7590s
5 Chaz Mostert Tickford Ford 8.3466s
6 Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport Nissan 9.0632s
7 David Reynolds Erebus Holden 9.8332s
8 Nick Percat Brad Jones Holden 10.4429s
9 Jack Le Brocq Tekno Holden 10.8709s
10 Tim Slade Brad Jones Holden 18.4152s
11 Fabian Coulthard DJR Penske Ford 18.9000s
12 Lee Holdsworth Team 18 Holden 19.4498s
13 James Golding GRM Holden 20.1331s
14 Simona de Silvestro Nissan Motorsport Nissan 20.7352s
15 Mark Winterbottom Tickford Ford 21.7221s
16 Tim Blanchard Blanchard/BJR Holden 26.3730s
17 Will Davison 23Red Racing Ford 45.1064s
18 Anton De Pasquale Erebus Holden 55.8198s
19 Cameron Waters Tickford Ford 1 Lap
20 Garth Tander GRM Holden 1 Lap
21 Richie Stanaway Tickford Ford 1 Lap
22 Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport Nissan 3 Laps
23 Todd Hazelwood Matt Stone Ford 3 Laps
24 Andre Heimgartner Nissan Motorsport Nissan 9 Laps
25 Scott Pye Walkinshaw Holden 14 Laps
- James Courtney Walkinshaw Holden Retirement

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