The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship heads across the Tasman for its annual visit to New Zealand for the 2019 ITM Auckland Supersprint.
The stage is set for Scott McLaughlin to break Craig Lowndes’ longstanding 16 wins in a season record this weekend.
After picking up a pair of wins at The Bend Motorsport Park and equalling the Supercars great’s impressive record, the reigning champion will be hoping to enter a league of his own this weekend. To complete the feat on home soil would make it even more special for the 26-year-old.
Standing in his way is Chaz Mostert, who enjoyed a big leap into second place thanks to two podium finishes in South Australia, while McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard will be hoping to bounce back after a forgettable previous round.
Shane van Gisbergen isn’t enjoying the same kind of success as he did last year, but the Kiwi is still a major threat at the track and will be looking to replicate his efforts last year and spoil McLaughlin’s party.
Another big moment to come out of the last round in South Australia was Anton De Pasquale’s continued rise up the ranks after the 2018 Peter Brock medallist made it into the top 10 for the first time in his career.
Championship Top 10
1 Scott McLaughlin 2738 points
2 Chaz Mostert 2165
3 Fabian Coulthard 2152
4 Shane van Gisbergen 2122
5 Jamie Whincup 1981
6 David Reynolds 1922
7 Cameron Waters 1774
8 Nick Percat 1705
9 Will Davison 1661
10 Anton De Pasquale 1560
Since last time:
Liveries rise to the occasion
As has been the case for many years, a special round calls for a special livery and a number of teams will have their cars in one-off liveries for the New Zealand round.
Like earlier this year, Rick Kelly’s Castrol-backed Nissan Altima will once again celebrate Castrol’s 100th year birthday with a mix of the company’s historic logos. Only this time, New Zealand's famous silver fern will also form part of the slick new look.
Brad Jones Racing (BJR) has also opted to use the round to change up their look with Tim Slade’s Commodore to pay tribute to the late Jason Richards.
A three-time New Zealand Touring Car champion, Richards spent the final two years of his decade long career with BJR before passing away in 2011 after losing a battle with cancer.
James Courtney and Walkinshaw Andretti United’s split announcement made headlines in the Supercars community.
After nine years, and seven wins for the team during this time, the two parties confirmed their split late last month after the OTR Supersprint.
While neither is yet to reveal their plans for 2020 and beyond, Courtney has said he will definitely be racing in 2020 and WAU have announced they are close to finding his replacement.
One of the big talking points since the cars last raced in anger was the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship calendar release.
There were a number of big changes to the calendar, including the announcement of the Gold Coast 600 racing under lights in 2020 and beyond, joining Sydney and Perth’s night rounds.
The calendar will be easier to follow for fans and teams, with events to fall on every third weekend throughout the season, with only one or two exceptions.
This round last year
Pole: Scott McLaughlin
Winner: Shane van Gisbergen
Runner Up: Scott McLaughlin
Third: Chaz Mostert
Pole: Jamie Whincup
Winner: Scott McLaughlin
Runner Up: Shane van Gisbergen
Third: Jamie Whincup
#2 Holden ZB - Scott Pye
#3 Nissan Altima - Garry Jacobson
#5 Ford Mustang - Lee Holdsworth
#6 Ford Mustang - Cameron Waters
#7 Nissan Altima - Andre Heimgartner
#8 Holden ZB - Nick Percat
#9 Holden ZB - David Reynolds
#14 Holden ZB - Tim Slade
#17 Ford Mustang - Scott McLaughlin
#18 Holden ZB - Mark Winterbottom
#19 Holden ZB - Jack Le Brocq
#21 Holden ZB - Macauley Jones
#22 Holden ZB - James Courtney
#23 Ford GT - Will Davison
#33 Holden ZB – Michael Caruso
#34 Holden ZB - James Golding
#35 Holden ZB - Todd Hazelwood
#55 Ford Mustang - Chaz Mostert
#78 Nissan Altima - Simona De Silvestro
#88 Holden ZB - Jamie Whincup
#97 Holden ZB - Shane van Gisbergen
#99 Holden ZB - Anton De Pasquale
#100 Nissan Altima - Rick Kelly
#333 Ford Mustang - Fabian Coulthard
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SsangYong Actyon Racing Series
NZ Muscle Cars
Friday 13 September
12:05 – 12:35 Practice 1
15:20 – 15:50 Practice 2
Saturday 14 September
11:20 – 11:50 Practice 3
13:55 – 14:15 ARMOR ALL Qualifying – Race 23
16:10 – 17:35 Race 23
Sunday 15 September
11:20 – 12:00 ARMOR ALL Qualifying - Race 24
13:40 – 14:00 ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout - Race 24
16:10 - 17:35 Race 24
(All times listed are Auckland local times (NZST))