McLaughlin wins it for Ford
FORD ended Holden's season-starting Supercar reign on Saturday when Scott McLaughlin broke through to land the Falcon its first non-sprint race win of the year.
In a 25-lap fling at the Australian GP circuit, McLaughlin floored his Falcon past Jamie Whincup's Holden on lap 40 to set up a scorching 250km Phillip Island victory that also gave him claim the championship lead.
Holden had won seven of the season's eight races until the DJR Team Penske Falcon finally fired to dethrone the Red Bull Holden Racing ZB.
"I think the battle between Shell V Power Racing and Red Bull is fantastic,'' McLaughlin said.
"I am glad to be a part of it and I always have good battles with Jamie. It is always better when you come out on top.''
Whincup surrendered his championship lead with McLaughlin edging past him by just one point.
"I gave it everything I had,'' Whincup said.
"At the end of the day they did a better job and had a really fast race car.''
Earlier, McLaughlin broke through to hand the Commodore a rare season defeat when he sizzled early to win an emphatic pole position.
The Ford went out hard as soon as the session opened to set a time that would remain unbeaten.
Fabian Couthard followed his teammate home to finish second fastest to give Ford a double win.
McLaughlin said: "For the whole team, to lock out the front row is a big thing at a track that we know we like"
"We've got to do it in the race now. We got plenty of poles last year, but we need to convert them now.''
McLaughlin's pole was his seventh at Phillip Island.
"I just love this circuit," McLaughlin said. "It's a really cool track where I can flow the car."
Whincup finished in third with a lap that was more than half a second slower than McLaughlin's.
But the joy for DJR Team Penske was short-lived when Coulthard was sent to the back of the grid for an infringement.
"During Parc Ferme following Qualifying for Race 9, Car #12, Fabian Coulthard, was inspected by the S & TD for compliance with the rear wing angle as stipulated in the VSD (Vehicle Specification Document),'' the steward said in a report.
"Car #12 was found to have been in breach of Rule C1.1.2 and C2.1.1 in that Car #12 did not comply with the relevant VSD during Qualifying for Race 9.''
Whincup burst out of the blocks to steal the lead from McLaughlin after Coulthard's penalty gifted him a front-row start.
In a breathtaking move, the Holden racer took his rival on the outside of one to set up an inch-perfect two-turn pass.
Whincup edged his way out to a 1.5 second lead but McLaughlin worked his way forward to be back on his rival's bumper by the time they stopped for their first pit-stop on lap 16.
Red Bull kept the No.1 in front with a quickfire stop and the order remained unchanged heading into the make-or-break second stop.
Again Whincup retained the lead to set up a 26-lap sprint to the line.
After failing in both his pit-stop overtaking bids, McLaughlin finally went to the front on lap 40 when he wore down Whincup to set up a passing move.
"We managed to look after the tyre until the end,'' McLaughlin said.
"And I am a bit surprised because I was working on Jamie for ages. I thought I could get him at turn one but his thing was so strong down the straight that the thing was pulling away from me.''
Rick Kelly finished third to hand Nissan a rare podium finish.