SCOTT McLaughlin and his flying Ford Falcon FG X Supercar have been unstoppable four races in a row now.
The Kiwi DJR Team Penske driver swept both races at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, following up his two race wins at the previous round in Phillip Island.
The last time a DJR Team Penske driver won four races in a row? James Courtney in 2010. He went on to win the championship that year.
Tyres were the major talking point in Perth, as the track’s surface tore the racer’s Dunlop rubber to shreds – thankfully there were no blowouts.
Late-race strategy became vital, as fresh rubber allowed racers to climb multiple positions in the closing laps.
McLaughlin dominated Saturday’s race, winning from pole, while Mark Winterbottom and Shane van Gisbergen stormed through the field to round out the podium positions.
A new for 2018 qualifying format meant both DJR Team Penske Fords started at the rear half of the field for Sunday’s racing.
With both Red Bull Holden Racing Team ZB Commodores locking out the front row, it seemed like Sunday was going to be redemption for Shane van Gisbergen and defending champ Jamie Whincup.
Drivers started the final day of racing expecting to have wet weather boots strapped to their cars, but by time the race start arrived, the track was dry and sun shining.
Starting from 19th on the grid, McLaughlin used a cunning three-stop strategy to move the lead of the race following final pit-stops.
However, it wasn’t all strategy. McLaughlin’s quick reflexes and skill helped him avoid a first-lap melee which took his teammate Fabian Coulthard out of serious contention.
Prior to the race start the young Kiwi had joked to his team engineers that he’d win from so far back on the grid but told TV cameras after the race that deep down “I didn’t bloody think I’d do it!”
Erebus Motorsport’s David Reynolds finished second, despite touring the sand trap just seconds before taking the chequered flag.
The 11th hour mistake at the final corner had commentators and fans alike baying at the drama.
“It was a pretty dick move, last corner, last lap,” Reynolds said post-race, chastising himself.
If McLaughlin’s run from 19th to first was heroic, Craig Lowndes’ race was utterly titanic, with the evergreen veteran starting second-last in 25th, battling his way onto the podium with just two laps remaining.
James Courtney finished fourth, with van Gisbergen and Whincup line astern behind him.
The racing on the short, dusty Barbagallo circuit was entertaining all weekend, with Supercars once again cementing itself as the premier touring car championship in the world for racing.
McLaughlin now leads the championship by 158 points ahead of van Gisbergen. The next round of the championship is at Winton on May 18-20.
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