Scott McLaughlin has laughed last and loudest after a dramatic Supercars weekend at Pukekohe, winning Sunday's race to restore a buffer at the top of the championship standings.
Hometown hero McLaughlin won a strategic battle with Jamie Whincup to wrest control of the race, holding the pacy polesitter at bay for more than 30 laps in front of a buoyant home crowd.
The battle was fierce during the final stages as Whincup, less than a second behind McLaughlin, sought any angle or opportunity to pass.
McLaughlin held firm, re-asserting his championship credentials for a deserved win - with van Gisbergen finishing second ahead after Whincup allowed him to pass on the last straight to improve his championship standings.
The gap between the two Kiwi title contenders will be 14 points as they head to the season-closing meet in Newcastle, just as it was when they arrived in New Zealand.