It was an intense battle at the Plus Fitness Phillip Island 400, as Garth Tander led into the final corner on the final lap of the 200km hit-out. But it was Scott McLaughlin’s Volvo that came tearing down the straight as the Holden Racing Team Commodore slowed, running out of fuel.
Tander’s car was running on fumes to cross the line and hold on to second, while young gun McLaughlin celebrated hard in the car, surprising even himself.
“It’s hard – I’m so pumped but I feel for Garth, he drove an awesome race – that was all I had,” the 21-year old Kiwi said.
The two were locked in battle in the final stages of the race, and after McLaughlin made an error braking at Siberia, it looked at if Tander would snatch another win at the circuit he claimed his Championship title in 2007.
“That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes,” Tander said.
“Can’t thank our guys enough. We weren’t thinking this was going to be one of our strong tracks… I came up about 100 metres short.”
McLaughlin had led off the start-line, but Tander’s Commodore jumped the Volvo in a pit stop early in the race.
For McLaughlin, the win means an improvement in the Championship standings to fifth – his goal for the year.
“That’s our aim, we have to keep pushing on, but that’s a big effort for our little team,” he said.
Ford Pepsi Max Crew’s Mark Winterbottom finished third and also widened his margin, from 44 to 95, with his second place in the championship looking under threat by Craig Lowndes before today’s race.
“It’s good for the boys and girls at workshop, pretty happy with that,” Winterbottom said. “It was a pretty epic battle, I wondered why McLaughlin was doing donuts!”
Champion-in-waiting Jamie Whincup came home fourth, with Shane van Gisbergen, Will Davison, Jason Bright, Nick Percat, Michael Caruso and Craig Lowndes top 10.
Others to note include HRT teammate James Courtney 13, Fabian Coulthard 16 and Chaz Mostert 17 after the FPR Falcon had to stop a third time after a refueling issue.
The V8 Supercars will race next at grand finale the Sydney NRMA 500 from December 5-7, with Marcos Ambrose in the field as a wild card entry.