It might have been a touchy subject, but Shane van Gisbergen has made a major dent in sidelined star Scott McLaughlin’s Supercars series lead after claiming the Gold Coast 600’s final race.
He made the most of McLaughlin’s absence after the Ford driver crashed out dramatically in qualifying, winning the 102-lap event by 0.17sec ahead of fellow Holden star Jamie Whincup.
Van Gisbergen cut McLaughlin’s series lead from 613 to 463 going into the final two rounds, which offer a total of 600 points.
Not that van Gisbergen wanted to talk about it.
The New Zealander clearly had mixed feelings about whittling away McLaughlin’s lead while the Ford driver was being monitored in hospital.
McLaughlin passed a concussion test at the trackside medical centre after his qualifying crash.
But he was later taken to hospital for observation before being discharged on Sunday night after van Gisbergen had emerged triumphant for the fourth time this season.
“I don’t really have any thoughts about that (drivers’ championship),” said van Gisbergen, who was partnered by Garth Tander.
“I am more about Scotty and his wellbeing. Their Bathurst-winning car is now ready for the scrap heap. It is pretty sad to see.
“As far as the championship goes, you don’t want to gain points like that – the focus now is the team championship.”
Van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Racing (RBR) outfit trails McLaughlin’s DJR Team Penske by just 132 points going into the next round, the Sandown 500 from November 8 to 10.
McLaughlin’s hopes of wrapping up the Supercars championship title on Sunday were in tatters when he was ruled out of the Gold Coast finale after his horror accident.
McLaughlin’s Mustang hit the inside kerb at 140km/h at the tough concrete wall-lined street circuit and ended up on its side on turn four.
The Kiwi could have secured consecutive titles if he finished the Gold Coast 600 holding a 600-point lead over van Gisbergen.
Now McLaughlin is firmly in van Gisbergen’s sights.
McLaughlin is also looking for a new ride, with his Mustang written off in the spectacular qualifying crash.
McLaughlin will be assessed again before getting a full clearance for the Sandown 500.
“He will be reviewed at Sandown but is expected to be fit to race there,” Supercars medico Dr Carl Le said.
David Reynolds – assisted by co-driver Luke Youlden – finished third on Sunday, marking the first all-Holden podium since the 2018 Sandown 500.
It was a dream weekend for van Gisbergen’s RBR team.
On Saturday, Whincup – with co-driver and Supercars great Craig Lowndes – claimed the opening 300-kilometre race from RBR teammate van Gisbergen, with McLaughlin third.
A record crowd of 198,763 packed the Gold Coast over the three days.