18 Sep 2017

McLaughlin extends Supercar lead

8:43 am on 18 September 2017

New Zealand driver Scott McLaughlin heads to Bathurst confident after extending his lead over Jamie Whincup in the Supercars championship at the Sandown 500.

Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin Photo: Photosport

McLaughlin, paired with Alex Premat through the Enduro series, couldn't get close enough to race winners Cam Waters and Richie Stanaway on Sunday.

But the DJR Team Penske man sprayed champagne from the second step on the podium and for McLaughlin that was good enough.

"It was our main goal this weekend to come out and try to beat our championship contenders," he said.

"The best thing for us was to finish second and ahead of everyone else.

"It's almost a win for me. We've come away from this weekend with a nice warmup for Bathurst and hopefully we come back stronger for the 1000."

2014 V8 Supercar Series champion Jamie Whincup.

2014 V8 Supercar Series champion Jamie Whincup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

McLaughlin entered the endurance races with a 12-point buffer over next-best Jamie Whincup, competing in the endurance races with Paul Dumbrell.

Whincup's tyre puncture dropped the six-time champ 84 points adrift.

McLaughlin's Penske Falcon teammate Fabian Coulthard is third, a further 77 points back.

There's a new man in fourth, with Chaz Mostert's podium lifting him above reigning champion Shane Van Gisbergen.

Mostert has strung together seven straight top-five finishes - answering the consistency questions that have dogged his career.

But does that mean the 2014 Bathurst champ is in the title race?

"I don't know," the Ford man said.

"This weekend even in the wet our car was really really quick.

"I was really shocked to be on the podium after going back to the pack (after a five-second penalty to co-driver Steve Owen) but we race cars hard and closed some gaps.

"At Bathurst, we've seen Jamie and Paul over the years have had the quickest car there and if you don't have luck on your side you don't get it done.

"For us it's just about focusing on each weekend as it comes."