Scott McLaughlin has both hands on the championship trophy heading to The Big One.
A 305-point margin at the top of the Supercars title table means only the officials, not his rivals, can rob him of a championship trifecta at the Bathurst 1000 next month.
McLaughlin was only second in the final sprint at The Bend on Sunday afternoon, but he took zero risks to run home ahead of his championship rival Jamie Whincup as Cam Waters scored his first sprint-race victory in the Monster Mustang.
Waters jumped McLaughlin at the first turn and was never threatened, as McLaughlin played the championship game in his Shell V-Power Mustang.
“Awesome. I’m stoked. Credit to everyone at Shell V-Power Racing,” said McLaughlin.
But already his focus has shifted to Mount Panorama and, with no championship pressure, he and Tim Slade will start The Great Race as favourites.
“We can have a massive crack at it. We want to win the race,” he said.
Whincup, too, is now looking ahead to Bathurst, as is his Red Bull HRT team mate Shane van Gisbergen, who was plain awful in qualifying for Race 30 but tore through the field to move up 17 positions to fifth at the flag.
“Some big dive-boms. Starting at the back hurts, it was fun, but …,” said van Gisbergen.
Waters was able to celebrate a landmark win with a very rare burnout for the Tickford crew, as teams have been protecting their engines through the Covid-19 season, and believes he is now also a serious Bathurst contender as he will be joined by Will Davison.
He has show plenty of pace through the 2020 season and finally did the job with a masterly move on McLaughlin and a mistake-free run at the front.
“There was no way I was going to get him through. I was giving it everything. I just had to make no mistake from that point,” Water said.
“I’m pumped. I was nervous the whole race.”
There was predictable chaos in the final race of the weekend, with James Courtney spearing through the grass at one stage as he dropped from fourth on the grid to 10th at the finish, while Nick Percat had to fight back nausea on his drive to fourth.
“I was actually getting motion sickness. I had a bit of food poisoning. I’m just happy to survive, to be honest. I was up all night,” he said.
So the drivers’ prize for 2020 is decided, Ford has beaten Holden in the manufacturer’s championship, and that leaves one final prize.
The teams’ championship will not be decided until the flag at Mount Panorama, but the Shell Mustang squad currently holding a 100-point advantage over the Bulls despite a lacklustre day for Fabian Coulthard that started with a transmission failure and finished with only eighth place.
Race 30: 32 laps
|5||Shane van Gisbergen|