Whin­cup win helps with his ti­tle hopes

Franklin County News - - SPORT - DAVID LONG

Scott McLaugh­lin says it will be all on at the fi­nal round of the Su­per­cars sea­son, de­spite Jamie Whin­cup go­ing into it with a 30-point lead in the cham­pi­onship.

Whin­cup be­came the Pukekohe party pooper on Sun­day, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of the 39,223 spec­ta­tors want­ing a Kiwi win.

With just one round of the cham­pi­onship to go, in New­cas­tle in three week’s time, Whin­cup has ex­tended his lead, with a max­i­mum of 300 left up for grabs.

It means if Whin­cup is able to fin­ish at least sec­ond in both races at New­cas­tle, or ahead of McLaugh­lin he’ll take the ti­tle.

While Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert and Shane van Gis­ber­gen could still math­e­mat­i­cally in the cham­pi­onship, re­al­is­ti­cally their ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions ended this week­end.

Al­though he has lost some ground on Whin­cup, McLaugh­lin says there’s ev­ery­thing still to play for.

‘‘It’s the first time in my ca­reer I’ve been able to have a go at the Su­per­cars cham­pi­onship,’’ McLaugh­lin said.

‘‘I guess it’s a bit of a dream come true, but I need to tick an­other box and try to win the thing. Jamie and his team did a fan­tas­tic job to­day, they had a re­ally quick car and they beat us on raw speed. We need to scratch our heads and have a look at it, but over­all it was a de­cent week­end with two podi­ums.’’

As well as move a small step closer to win­ning his sev­enth Su­per­cars ti­tle, Whin­cup has be­come the first driver to twice win the Ja­son Richards Memo­rial Tro­phy, named in hon­our of the late New Zealand driver, who died with can­cer in 2011 at the age of 35.

‘‘It’s been a bit of a drought this year. We’ve been hang­ing in there but haven’t had many wins or many poles. The pole this morn­ing was the first one in the dry, which was nice and we then had to put our head down and do a hard 70 laps. I was a team-mate of JR in 2005, we were good mates, we got up to no good to­gether for a cou­ple of years, so it’s a spe­cial mo­ment and it’s one of the big­gest ac­co­lades of the year.’’

Be­ing more ex­pe­ri­enced and with a slight lead, Whin­cup will go into New­cas­tle as the slight favourite, but the 24-year-old McLaugh­lin won’t be over­awed about hav­ing the big­gest race week­end of his life, where so much is at stake.

It will be a week­end where he knows he’ll have to fin­ish ahead of Whin­cup in at least one race

‘‘I’ve been in bat­tles,’’ McLaugh­lin said.

‘‘Like last year try­ing to get to third in the cham­pi­onship, where I had to beat just one guy (Craig Lown­des).

‘‘So I sort of have an idea of what to do and at the end of the day I’ve just got to beat him.

We’ll go there, be the chaser and en­joy it.’’

McLaugh­lin has been the best driver in qual­i­fy­ing this sea­son and the race pace of his Shell V-Power Holden has also been ex­tremely fast, but at Pukekohe on Sun­day Whin­cup was clearly faster.

‘‘It’s tit for tat and that’s what the cham­pi­onship has been like the whole year,’’ McLaugh­lin said.

‘‘Ev­ery­one’s on their toes and I don’t think ei­ther party has got a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage, which is go­ing to make it even bet­ter in the fi­nal round. ‘‘Cer­tainly, it’s all on.’’ Sun­day’s race at lacked the drama of the pre­vi­ous day, when van Gis­ber­gen won and it was some­thing of a pro­ces­sion.

Other than the cars were out of se­quence be­cause of re­fu­elling, Whin­cup led for the en­tire race, with McLaugh­lin sec­ond.

Van Gis­ber­gen was in­volved in bizarre in­ci­dent early in the race, he came into the pit lane way quicker than Tim Slade and rammed into the back of him.

The bon­net of his car bent up so much that van Gis­ber­gen couldn’t see his way into the garage and had to be guided in by his team over the ra­dio.

His car needed a sig­nif­i­cant patch up job and he even­tu­ally fin­ished 24th, while Coulthard fin­ished fifth.

DANIEL KAL­ISZ

Jamie Whin­cup, driver of the #88 Red Bull Holden Rac­ing Team cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning race 24 for the Auck­land Su­perSprint.

SHELL V-POWER

Scott McLaugh­lin showed his pace around Pukekohe Park Race­way in the qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion.

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