FULL THROTTLE: Mark Winterbottom, Chaz Mostert and Jamie Whincup are among the V8 Supercar big guns heading to Newcastle for the series finale. A tiny points gap, two in-form drivers and a brand new street circuit – this year’s Supercars championship has all the elements of a cracking season finish.
Holden’s six-time champion Jamie Whincup will head to the season-ending Newcastle 500 with a 30-point lead over New Zealand young gun Scott McLaughlin.
The inaugural Newcastle 500, which will decide this year’s title, will be contected betweenNovember 24 and26.
Whincup and McLaughlin were basically inseparable in the Auckland SuperSprint event at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
McLaughlin finished third to Whincup’s fourth in Saturday’s race before the Red Bull Holden Racing Team star held off his DJR Team Penske rival on Sunday to end the weekend with a vital race win.
Neither driver knows what to expect at the inaugural Newcastle event, beyond the fact that it’s a level playing field for the entire grid.
“No-one’s got any data or any knowledge from years before,” Whincup said.
“You just go there, work with your team and do the best job you can. It’s going to be on. It’s going to be hard work for all involved but rewarding for the person that gets the ultimate prize.”
McLaughlin, who led the championship standings until a failure to finish this year’s Bathurst 1000, says he is excited about the double unknown of racing for a Supercars’ title and the 2.6km Newcastle circuit.
“It brings it back to the old go-karting days when you didn’t have any data and you just tried to learn the track by yourself,” the 24-year-old said. “I’m excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun and looking at the layout it’s something we’ve never seen before at a street circuit. On the beach and, yeah, pretty awesome, looking forward to it.”
Any hopes thatHolden’s Shane Van Gisbergen would be in contention crashed at his hometown circuit in New Zealand. Van Gisbergen appeared to enter pitlane too fast and speared into the back of Tim Slade’s Holden on the 23rd lap of the 70-lap race.
Van Gisbergen’s 24th-place finish won’t be enough to keep him in the championship hunt, as he is 276 points behindWhincup.
“We’ll see how we go at Newcastle,” Van Gisbergen told Fox Sports.
“I’ve got the best team in pitlane. The way they turned it around, the car was safe, went back out there and in the amount of time managed to get some points.
“Sorry to them and sorry to everyone on the hill – let them down – but gave it a good crack.”