Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen and Chaz Mostert acknowledge their fans from the podium at Pukekohe Park. Picture: David Rowland/AAP
Scott McLaughlin, Shane van Gisbergen and Chaz Mostert acknowledge their fans from the podium at Pukekohe Park. Picture: David Rowland/AAP

Van Gisbergen beats McLaughlin home in NZ

SHANE van Gisbergen has hunted and humiliated his countryman and Supercars title rival Scott McLaughlin in a bitterly contested race at Pukekohe Park in New Zealand.

Van Gisbergen stalked pole-sitter McLaughlin on Saturday from the get-go and took a provisional victory, despite a five-second penalty issued against him for shunting his fellow Kiwi as he harassed him for the lead.

The eventual margin between the pair - just 0.5 seconds after the penalty was applied - showed the tightness of the contest.

McLaughlin might still have the last laugh, with van Gisbergen subject to a post-race penalty for spinning his wheels in pit lane.

In the immediate aftermath of the race, McLaughlin's second-place finish reduces his championship lead to just two points.

Chaz Mostert finished third, with Jamie Whincup's fifth place not enough to keep him in the title race - the 460-point deficit to McLaughlin ends his faint mathematical hopes.

On a day when van Gisbergen held superior pace, he used it to overtake McLaughlin twice, first with a dive-bomb move on lap 23.

After McLaughlin reclaimed the lead with a strategic early pit stop, van Gibsergen won it back with a high-speed turn in front of the main grandstand with just 10 laps remaining.

Officials saw the original shunt that started the move as worthy of a five-second hurdle, which van Gisbergen cleared by half a second.

But it wasn't enough for him to simply win the race - and win by bashing the DJR Team Penske man out of the way.

After the race, the Red Bull HRT driver pulled his Commodore alongside McLaughlin's Falcon so tightly as to block his rival in his car.

As Van Gisbergen took off celebrating, McLaughlin was embarrassingly trapped inside his car.

"I didn't mean to do that, but whatever," van Gisbergen said.

"I hope you guys enjoyed that," he said to his gushing home crowd. "It was one of the coolest races I've ever had.

"I'm pretty happy with that one but we've got to do it all again tomorrow."

McLaughlin didn't even have to stand next to his rival on the podium, as van Gisbergen didn't stay to spray champagne, instead running down to share it with his team.

"We raced hard all race and there was a bit tit-for-tat," a stunned McLaughlin said.

"Gutted we didn't get the win.

"Hopefully, Ford fans can come back tomorrow and give these Opels a run."

In a dramatic race, Fabian Coulthard was bumped into the fence on lap eight, his Falcon sustaining enough damage to threaten his participation in Sunday's race.

Richie Stanaway was served a drive-through penalty for starting the incident.

- AAP