22 May 2016

McLaughlin takes V8 championship lead

2:14 pm on 22 May 2016

New Zealand's Scott McLaughlin has claimed the lead in the V8 Supercars Championship after finishing second in Saturday's race at Winton in Victoria.

Scott McLaughlin on the Winton podium.

Scott McLaughlin on the Winton podium. Photo: Mark Horsburgh

The 22-year-old from the Garry Rogers Racing team guided his Volvo safely through the 40 laps to hold off defending Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom.

"It was another tough battle. For our guys we have to tune our car up but I am so stoked we can get another podium. We are going alright," said an understated McLaughlin.

The last time a Volvo driver led the championship was New Zealand's Robbie Francevic in 1986, when he went on to win the title.

"And I was not even born then," quipped McLaughlin.

It proved an excellent breakthrough win for Tim Slade, who took over from Kiwi Fabian Coulthard at Brad Jones Racing.

He became the ninth different winner from 10 races this season, to illustrate the competitive nature of the field this year.

Slade cleared out from the pole position and was never threatened as McLaughlin and three former champions in Winterbottom, Rick Kelly and Jamie Whincup battled for the podium.

McLaughlin made his move off the line, jumping superbly from fourth on the grid to beat a stuttering Winterbottom into the first corner.

From there it was a matter of getting the tactics right on the tight track that offered few passing opportunities.

McLaughlin leads the championship on 984 points from Whincup on 1963, Craig Lowndes 954 and Winterbottom 945.

While it was a celebration for the young Kiwi driver, it proved a lack-lustre day for the rest of the New Zealand drivers who struggled to come to grips with the resurfaced Winton Raceway.

Shane van Gisbergen, fresh back in Australia after racing in England last weekend, finished ninth after qualifying 11th, Coulthard finished 17th from 15th on the grid, one place ahead of Chris Pither in the Super Black Racing entry with Andrew Heimgartner 23rd.