25 Nov 2018

Van Gisbergen title quest hit by Supercars penalty

12:30 pm on 25 November 2018

New Zealand driver Shane van Gisbergen has been sensationally stripped of a dramatic win by officials before the championship deciding final race in Newcastle.

New Zealand Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen

New Zealand Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen Photo: Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Stewards have hit Holden's van Gisbergen with a 25-second penalty for a pit-lane breach in Saturday's opening race, relegating him from first to fifth and handing Scott McLaughlin the victory.

Series leader McLaughlin's series lead over van Gisbergen has now been boosted from just two points to 53 before Sunday's 95-lap race that will decide the 2018 champion.

Officials convened on Sunday morning to decide whether to punish van Gisbergen after the deputy race director's overnight probe into the pit-lane incident "determined a breach of the rules has been established" with a penalty recommended.

Van Gisbergen remarkably reeled in McLaughlin on the 95th and final lap to clinch what appeared to be a confidence boosting victory before the season finale.

However, van Gisbergen's Red Bull Racing team were found guilty of a pit-lane breach after lowering the Holden entry to the ground with the refuelling hose still attached during his final stop on Saturday.

Aiming for his maiden Supercars title, McLaughlin came into the final round with a 14-point championship lead over 2016 champion van Gisbergen to ensure the closest season finish in a decade.

But it appeared to get even closer thanks to van Gisbergen's late heroics as fellow Kiwi McLaughlin nursed his ailing Ford around the final two laps, dramatically running out of fuel as he crossed the finish line.