Scott McLaughlin pushes his Mustang at the Adelaide 500 on Saturday. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP
Scott McLaughlin pushes his Mustang at the Adelaide 500 on Saturday. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP

Whincup chases McLaughlin home in Supercars opener

SCOTT McLaughlin has made a perfect start to his Supercars title defence, claiming the season-opening race in Adelaide in his new Ford Mustang.

McLaughlin finished the 250km opener on the tough street circuit 13 seconds ahead of seven-time series winner Jamie Whincup, whose Holden teammate Shane van Gisbergen was third.

New Zealander McLaughlin on the grid at third but pounced at the start, reeling in pole sitter and Ford teammate Fabian Coulthard and Whincup at the first turn.

McLaughlin was never headed, at one stage holding a 55-second lead over Whincup, only to have it whittled away when he took his second and final pit stop.

The Kiwi's triumph provided the first touring car win since 1972 for Mustang, which replaced Falcons this season in all six Ford teams and had not been sighted on the grid since 1990.

Allan Moffat had claimed its most recent win 47 years ago at Oran Park.

Dick Johnson also savoured victory in a Mustang back in 1985, but it was in a non-championship round at the Australian Grand Prix.

Overall, McLaughlin's stunning victory took Mustang's win tally to 16.

Mustang won five straight touring car titles from 1965 - one for Norm Beechey before four straight by Ian Geoghegan.

It has not enjoyed a championship series win since, but McLaughlin may change all that judging by his impressive season start.

Remarkably it was McLaughlin's first win at Adelaide in his 199 race career - and also denied arch rival van Gisbergen a slice of history.

Van Gisbergen had been aiming to become the first driver to win five straight races at Adelaide.

It was yet another blow dealt to van Gisbergen by McLaughlin, who pipped his compatriot by just 71 points to claim his maiden championship last season.

McLaughlin kept his cool in blistering conditions with temperatures soaring past 40 degrees trackside and in the mid-60s in the cars.

McLaughlin's teammate Coulthard started on pole but was handed a 10-second penalty for a false start, scuppering his victory hopes. Coulthard went back to 22nd after copping the penalty but recovered to finish sixth.

Meanwhile, Holden's Macauley Jones did not take his place in the opening race after a nasty crash at Saturday's practice but was hopeful his Commodore would be repaired in time for Sunday's final 250km event.