McLaughlin back on top on Gold Coast

CHAZ Mostert may have won Saturday’s battle on the streets of Surfers Paradise but no one was more delighted at the end of the first race of the Gold Coast 600 than Scott McLaughlin.

McLaughlin finished in fifth place to storm to the top of the drivers’ championship after a disastrous day for rival Shane van Gisbergen, coming home 10th.

Trailing by 19 points heading into the Surfer’s Paradise showdown, McLaughlin now leads van Gisbergen by 14 points after the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver finished 10th.

McLaughlin certainly got the best out of race one. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)Source:AAP

“It was a very good day as far as the championship is concerned,’’ McLaughlin said.

“We had some issues and things go against us but we ended up with a solid result. I think we ended up bended something on the wall but we got home. That result was solid and we went OK.’’

McLaughlin set up the championship changer earlier in the day when he powered his way to his latest top-ten shootout win.

Racking up his 12th qualifying win of the year, the Shell driver blasted a 1:10.37 to edge out Whincup and book himself a front row start.

McLaughlin can now look forward to a big Sunday. (AAP image, John Gass)Source:News Corp Australia

“I felt we could have done it in that first qualifying and just didn’t put the lap together,’’ McLaughlin said.

“But to do it in the shootout is fantastic. It’s a great prize, obviously, being on pole, but we need to do it in the race. We’ll give it a good hard crack.”

Van Gisbergen’s race became a comeback mission when the championship contender was slapped down by a top-ten kerb strike.

The Kiwi was forced back to 9th place after losing his time for taking too much kerb on his shootout lap.

It was a frustrating day for van Gisbergen.Source:Supplied

“I just pushed too much,’’ van Gisbergen said.

“It’s a shame, the first sector I mucked up and was just trying to make it back. It makes it hard starting from 10th, but we’ll have a go.

“We’ll be right.”

McLaughlin was put back into the clutches of van Gisbergen on just the second lap of the race after his co-driver Alex Premat was tagged by Paul Dumbrell in pass for the lead.

In a dramatic opening to the 300km endurance race, Premat was sent from first to fifth after being spun by the Red Bull in what was ruled to be a legal pass.

Cue the chaos.

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V8 Supercars: Jamie Whincup has posted his fastest ever time at Mt. Panorama to claim provisional poll at the Bathurst 1000.

The race — and championship — was turned upside down on lap 22 when a Will Brown crash sparked a pit-lane frenzy.

With the entire field dashing into for a stop after the smash prompted a safety car, Whincup and van Gisbergen were both slapped down with race crippling penalties when their co-drivers where issued drive throughs for unsafe releases.

Giving McLaughlin a shot at stealing the championship lead, van Gisbergen’s Commodore was sent back to 22nd place after the penalty was served while the Penske Ford flew to fourth.

Chaz Mostert enjoyed a productive day on the Gold Coast. (Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Van Gisbergen clawed his way back to 10th to as Mostert powered his way home to win his first race in 365 days.

The emphatic 10 seconds win ended a year of horror for Tickford Racing by putting the former powerhouse back on the map.

“That feels pretty good after a tough year,’’ Mostert said.

“It has been a very tough year but that makes up for some of it.’’

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Originally published as McLaughlin back on top on Gold Coast

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