McLaughlin fights back as Whincup claims Reid Park round
CHAMPIONSHIP leader Scott McLaughlin gave himself breathing room at the top after taking full advantage of a pole start in the final race at the NTI Townsville Supersprint.
After struggling to qualify in the opening two races, McLaughlin found his one-lap speed to set himself on the front row.
It was a position he refused to give up despite being locked in a close battle with second-place finisher Cameron Waters before the pair pitted around the race's halfway point.
With three fresh tyres on his Shell V-Power Mustang, McLaughlin kicked clear in the final laps to sail across the Reid Park finish line more than four seconds ahead of the Tickford Star.
Jamie Whincup clinched the round win after forcing his way through the field to finish on the bottom step of the podium another two seconds behind Waters.
It was a major turnaround for McLaughlin and his team in the first garage on pit lane after qualifying in 16th and 13th in the first two races of the round.
"The Shell V-Power team are continually working hard and to get a win on a tough weekend is a great thing," McLaughlin said.
"Every win is a goal, if you start on pole you want to win. I feel good physically, it is hard without a cool suit. I know a few of the guys are wearing them but me and Ludo decided not to go with it, we feel it is faster so we will stick with it."
PYE IN THE SKY
While the top of the tree proved too hard to shake for most of the field, there was no denying Scott Pye had a day to remember at Reid Park.
Across the two races on Sunday, Pye climbed an incredible 19 places to finish inside the top 10 both times.
It has been an incredible fight back from the Team 18 driver who scored his first podium finish at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin last round.
But the 30-year-old said it was no time for celebration as the team aims to improve its qualification times to get a better place on the grid.
"We made 19 places in one day. I guess it highlights the weakness. What we are struggling for in qualifying is a rolling car in the middle, when you are doing nothing with your feet you want that coast turn. That is where we are lacking," Pye said.
"In the race we have now got a car we can dial in and it is working. Thanks to Phil, the car is a pleasure to drive the boys killed that pit stop.
"Race pace was quickest out there. I am really happy, I am excited for next weekend, we know what we need to work on in qualifying. That is what is giving us strength in the race, so we want two separate packages."
STILL WATERS RUNS QUICK
If Jamie Whincup was the round winner, Cameron Waters was its Mr Consistent.
The Tickford Racing star had his Mustang dialled in well to the Reid Park circuit to come away with two podium finishes and a fourth to sit narrowly behind the Triple Eight Engineering star on the round leaderboard.
Waters almost drove his way to victory in the final race at Reid park, pushing McLaughlin to his limits but just couldn't find a way through.
"I am absolutely pumped. We got a second yesterday, a good run in fourth this morning," he said.
"I gave Scotty absolutely everything I had, but I couldn't get him to make a mistake so second was all we could do. There is some good pace in this car, it was a really good weekend.
"I had nothing left. The boys did a mega job in the pit stops, they did as much as they could and I did everything I could. Credit to Scott, he drove awesome that race and didn't make a mistake. That team turned it around in a day."
Originally published as McLaughlin fights back as Whincup claims Reid Park round