Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen hunted down Scott McLaughlin to take a thrilling win in Sunday’s showpiece race of the Adelaide season opener.
The race boiled down to a thrilling battle between van Gisbergen and McLaughlin across the final stint, the Red Bull Holden closing in on McLaughlin and snatching the lead at Turn 9 with three laps to go.
The late-race pass denied McLaughlin, only 17th in the Saturday leg of the opener after a drivethrough penalty, a fairytale win on his debut for DJR Team Penske.
McLaughlin looked speedy from the get-go, slotting in behind early leader Fabian Coulthard after the two DJR Team Penske Fords got past van Gisbergen on the run to the first corner.
Looking racier than his team-mate, McLaughlin opted to make his first stop just eight laps in, smashing the lap record to the tune of half a second once back on track to eventually lead when the first round of stops shook out.
After a long second stint he led more than five seconds down the road from van Gisbergen, who was his only genuine challenger after a mid-race scrap with James Courtney and Coulthard, when the second round of stops were completed.
From there McLaughlin looked set to cruise to victory, but van Gisbergen had other ideas.
The Saturday race winner slowly chipped away at the lead, before being handed the advantage when McLaughlin was given one last warning for kerb strikes 17 laps from the end, leaving him dangling on the edge of a pitlane penalty.
The penalty never came, but van Gisbergen did. He was within striking distance of the leading Ford with three laps to go, McLaughlin yielding to the pressure and running wide at Turn 9 to let van Gisbergen into the lead and storm to a second win of the weekend.
Prodrive Racing’s Chaz Mostert finished the race third, dropping to the back of the top six with a long first stop before popping out in third after a short second stop.
While he didn’t have the pace to chase down the two leaders, he did have enough to comfortably hold off Courtney and Coulthard, who came home fourth and fifth respectively. Courtney had his issues along the way, though, running into the back of Simona de Silvestro midway through the race.
Jamie Whincup fought his way up to sixth, knocking Waters back to seventh with six laps to go, to repeat his result from a Saturday race in which a strategy gamble and a clash with Mark Winterbottom hurt the Triple Eight driver’s chances.
Nick Percat’s chances of replicating his shock 2016 Adelaide success were dashed on the opening lap when he whacked the wall at Turn 8 and wound up as the race’s only non-finisher.