Whincup on track for seventh Supercars title
JAMIE Whincup won a gripping tussle with Scott McLaughlin in Auckland on Sunday to continue his stunning charge towards an unprecedented seventh Supercars title.
In what is now shaping as a two-way title fight for the championship between a V8 immortal and the sport's next big thing, a flawless Whincup led from start to finish in his Red Bull Holden Racing Team car to extend his championship lead over Ford star McLaughlin to 30 points.
On a horror weekend for the three other title contenders, Whincup and McLaughlin (DJR/Team Penske) edged ahead as Fabian Coulthard (DJR/Team Penske), Shane van Gisbergen (RBHRT) and Chaz Mostert (Prodrive Racing Australia) all suffered blows which put a huge dent in their title hopes.
"We needed that,'' Whincup said. "We just had to give ourselves an opportunity. The guys have dug hard for this one so I can thank them enough.''
McLaughlin was bitterly disappointed to finish second in his Falcon.
"I am gutted not to get it done,'' McLaughlin said.
"We had to save fuel at the end. It was a proud moment to race in front of the home fans and I pushed hard.
"It is now on for Newcastle (at the grand finale this month). We are going to try our best to get it done.''
Whincup had earlier grabbed just his second pole position of the year when he stormed home to edge out McLaughlin.
"The car was good, we just really maximised that last lap, so happy days," Whincup said.
"Heading out with green tyres in P7 and Scotty on pole, I had to pull it out and take risks"
Fabian Coulthard pulled off a minor miracle to make it to the qualifying grid after he rolled his Falcon in race one.
The Kiwi qualified in eighth to keep alive his slim hopes of winning the title.
"The guys have put the car back together perfectly," Coulthard said. "The steering wheel is straight, you can't ask for much more.
"I'd like to have been a little bit further ahead but eighth isn't too bad."
Whincup got off to a perfect start to take the lead from McLaughlin as all hell broke loose behind them when Cameron Waters tagged teammate Mark Winterbottom.
Winterbottom then hit Mostert, sending him to the back of the field and ruining his chance to win the title.
The drama continued on lap 17 when Shane van Gisbergen sabotaged his own bid for back-to-back titles when he speared into Tim Slade during a pit-stop.
Looking to make up time, the Red Bull driver sped into pit lane and drilled Slade in the rear end.
Van Gisbergen returned to the track after hefty repairs in a vain attempt to salvage some championship points.
"I was doing everything I could to make up time,'' said van Gisbergen, who finished in 24th.
"I was pushing the limit. It wrecked our day and hurts us in the team's championship, too.
"I am sorry for letting every one down.''
Coulthard scrapped his way to fifth, while Mostert fought back to finish in seventh to remain a mathematical hope.