25 Nov 2018

McLaughlin fights back to grab Supercars title

8:29 pm on 25 November 2018

A year after his career's lowest point, Ford's Scott McLaughlin has claimed his maiden Supercars championship title.

Scott McLoughlin

Scott McLoughlin Photo: Photosport

The 25-year-old New Zealand driver finally put to rest his 2017 last-round heartbreak by sealing the title with a second placing behind Holden's David Reynolds in the 95-lap season finale in Newcastle on Sunday.

Nearest rival, Holden's Shane van Gisbergen, finished fourth in the 250km event, ensuring McLaughlin won the championship by 71 points.

McLaughlin only needed a top-six finish to hold out fellow Kiwi van Gisbergen and secure his first championship.

But McLaughlin knew only too well that it was easier said than done on Newcastle's tough 2.6km street circuit.

After last year's season finish in Newcastle, McLaughlin admitted he was at "the lowest point' of his career.

He only needed a top-11 finish in the final 2017 race to secure his first title and was in the box seat by claiming pole with a 78 point series lead.

But he suffered three penalties as Jamie Whincup came from the clouds to win a record seventh crown.

McLaughlin's triumph marks the seventh time a Kiwi driver has won the Supercars title.

It also provided a fitting farewell for the iconic Falcon with Ford teams switching to Mustangs next season, marking an end of an era.

But Supercars great Craig Lowndes' send-off didn't go to plan.

In the final event of his 22-year full-time career, Lowndes, 44, finished 11th to place fourth in the championship.

Lowndes will return next year as a co-driver in the three endurance rounds.

Holden's Reynolds started Sunday's race on pole but McLaughlin nabbed the lead after the pit-lane frenzy that followed a safety car prompted by Jamie Whincup making contact with Ford's Fabian Coulthard on the final corner of lap 20.

McLaughlin let a fast-finishing Reynolds pass in the final 10 laps.

Van Gisbergen was behind the eight ball from the outset on Sunday as he tried to reel in McLaughlin's series lead and claim a second Supercars title.

The 2016 champion suffered a blow ahead of Sunday's race when he was stripped of his dramatic Saturday race win, relegated to fifth after a stewards investigation.

Van Gisbergen's Holden team were sensationally found guilty of a pitlane refuelling breach before he reeled in McLaughlin - who was running out of fuel - on the final lap to claim Saturday's 95-lap event.

The penalty announced on Sunday morning extended McLaughlin's series lead over his fellow Kiwi from just two points to 53 before the last race.