Scott McLaughlin has extended his Supercars Championship lead after taking victory in Race 15 at Queensland Raceway, Ipswich.
As the lights went out it was Craig Lowndes who got the jump and led the angry pack of thirty cars into the first few corners, pole sitter Scott McLaughlin who had a little too much wheel spin plus the added difficulty of starting on the dirty side of the road gave the opportunity to second place starter Lowndes and he seized without hesitation.
Almost everyone got through the first lap safely until James Moffat got turned around in the middle of the pack at turn three making heavy contact with Alex Rullo as the teenager tried to avoid the spinning Garry Roger Motorsport car. Both Commodores suffered major front end damage but made it back to the pits.
McLaughlin prevailed on lap three getting back up the inside of Caltex sponsored Triple Eight car at turn three. Triple eight were the first to blink bringing Lowndes in early on lap five opting for an alternative strategy with clean air in mind.
Whincup was the next driver to pit, but suffered from a slow stop due to an air jack malfunction. The #88 was already on the back foot after receiving a five place grid penalty for contact with Moffat in Qualifying exiting the pitlane
As the race played out, the strategies varied in every way, shape and form. Lowndes’ crew opted for two tyres and a splash of fuel in his one and only pit stop whereas when McLaughlin came in a little later on lap 13 bolting on four tyres and not taking a single drop of fuel.
The difference was made clear when McLaughlin re-joined behind Lowndes but with fresher rubber and more of it, the Kiwi slipped back up the inside at turn two.
Lowndes then fell into the clutches of a charging Tim Slade; the pair went side by side for a number of corners until Slade completed his move at the final corner to move into second place.
Lowndes then had Prodrive’s Chaz Mostert looming in his mirrors and soon enough right in front of him as Mostert also made a move up the inside pushing the triple eight car down to fourth.
Eventually Shane van Gisbergen came in for his stop after going long on his strategy, the #97 was followed in by the other Shell V-Power Racing car of Fabian Coulthard who were also playing the long game.
Van Gisbergen then began his punch back through the field making passes on David Reynolds, Mark Winterbottom and Rick Kelly in quick succession, getting up to fifth position until he made a pass on Lowndes for fourth.
With just four laps remaining, Jason Bright in the Mega Racing entry limped into pit lane with an engine issue. The experienced Victorian driver came in just as GRM’s James Moffatt was leaving after the damage from the first lap incident set them back a few laps.
A late race drama for the Harvey Norman entry of Simona de Silvestro with a front right tyre delamination going down the straight between turn two and three. The car stayed on the road but had to make a last minute stop to change the flailing rubber.
McLaughlin crossed the line three seconds ahead of Mostert who had an impressive second stint, completing the podium was Van Gisbergen, the Kiwi making a last lap pass on Slade for third place.
Slade dropped back to fourth while Lowndes held onto fifth place from a raging Coulthard who carved his way through the field in the closing stages to finish sixth.
Nick Percat came home in seventh securing vital championship points while Kelly, Winterbottom and Reynolds rounded out the top-ten.
Jack Le Brocq emerged as the top wildcard finisher in 19th ahead of Red Bull’s Whincup, Tim Blanchard and Matt Stone Racing wildcard Todd Hazelwood.
Rullo and Jason Bright were the only cars to retire from the race which ran without a Safety Car.