SvG makes statement after night race ‘war’
SHANE van Gisbergen left Scott McLaughlin battered and bruised on Saturday night after belting the DJR/Team Penske driver in a Sydney stunner.
In an epic return to night racing as Sydney hosted the first flood-lit race since 1997, van Gisbergen launched a metal-on-metal assault to floor McLaughlin at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Locked in a toe-to-toe fight for the V8 title, van Gisbergen and McLaughlin sent the Eastern Creek crowd of 21,220 into a frenzy when they went to war on lap 62 after a safety car restart.
Out to land back-to-back blows on his Ford foe after winning in Ipswich, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team enforcer bashed and barged McLaughlin during a stunning six lap assault before flooring his way through to win the first ever Sydney SuperNight.
Van Gisbergen cut McLaughlin's championship lead to just 89 points.
"Scott was driving really well and he defending awesomely,'' van Gisbergen said.
"We had a couple of bumps but he wasn't too fazed. I enjoyed that. Unfortunately for him I think he got some pick up (on his tyres) and we got through.''
Jamie Whincup also passed McLaughlin to make it a double celebration for Red Bull.
"It is a one two for the team so I am really happy,'' van Gisbergen said.
"It is an awesome result for the team.''
McLaughlin won the first battle of the Sydney war by storming his way to pole-position to with a Sydney Motorsport lap record as van Gisbergen finished third fastest.
"The car was awesome,'' McLaughlin said extending his season pole tally to 11.
"It was a tough qualifying session.
"Into Turn 1, you do have the sun in your face, but once that goes down and the lights go on, it's going to be great to be part of it.
It's pretty exciting."
McLaughlin also threw the first punch when the night racing returned after 21 by he blitzing his way off the line to take the lead.
Van Gisbergen hit-back, storming past Fabian Coulthard to put himself on McLaughlin's tail.
McLaughlin looked liked bouncing back after his Queensland Raceway defeat after establishing a commanding mid-race lead.
But a lap 58 safety car put the Penske pilot back in a one-on-one war with his championship challenger.
"It took a while for the race to come alive,'' van Gisbergen said.
"And it sure did after that safety car. It was just awesome.''
Fighting with fists of steel, the Holden hulk launched the year's most brutal attack with van Gisbergen monstering his championship rival with his Red Bull rocket.
"I tried so hard to keep him behind,'' McLaughlin said.
"So sorry to the Ford fans because I didn't get it done. I am absolutely gutted. We had a great car today, great pit stops and a great strategy but that safety car just came out at the wrong time.
"I was trying my damn hardest to hold Shane back but I just couldn't.''
McLaughlin finished in third after losing his late race battle with Whincup.
Still leading the championship by 89 points, McLaughlin is confident of hitting back after suffering his second straight defeat.
"We got a bag full of points so it was still a good night,'' McLaughlin said.
"We will just move on.''
The battle will resume on August 24 when Supercars race at Tailem Bend in South Australia for the very first time.
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