Teamed up with talented V8 Supercar driver Jono Webb, the duo translated their superb qualifying pace – where they locked out pole position for both races with first and second fastest times from qualifying – into a second place in Race 1 and a Race 2 win.
This matched the performance of the Mike Pero Mortgages M3 Racing duo of Nick Cassidy and Jack Perkins, but two pole positions were enough to give McLaughlin and Webb the memorial Ashley Stichbury Trophy – which they received from the late ace’s son Zach in front of the biggest crowd seen at a circuit racing event seen at the Taupo circuit since the days of A1GP.
Their driver changes – compulsory in the two 56 lap races – were amongst the quickest but they were hampered in Race 1 with a tyre-hungry car. Some small adjustments to the set up gave them more consistency in Race 2 and they made the most of it, winning and taking the lead in the V8 SuperTourers enduro series.
They didn’t have it all their own way though. Series debutants Cassidy and Perkins put in a mega quick driver changeover on Race 1 and jumped the McLaughlin and Webb car to take a lead they would not lose, and in Race 2 after some early contact that damaged the passenger side of the car, they had no real answer to the flying McLaughlin and Webb but had the measure of the rest.
Championship leader John McIntyre and new co-driver Jono Lester translated a poor qualifying performance on Saturday into two excellent third place finishes – McIntyre’s trademark press on style getting him past the Richard Moore/ Owen Kelly car late on in the second race.
Fourth was a great result for the Skinny Mobile-backed car after two consistent performances and capped a good day for M3 Racing. Craig Baird and Chris Pither were factors in both races and were in the thick of two fantastic mid-field battles in each. Fifth was no more than they deserved after a strong weekend. Strong too was JMR’s second CRC Motornews car of Steve Richards and Will Bamber, which turned great pace in Race 2 into sixth overall.
For championship contenders International Motorsport it was a difficult weekend. In Race 1, Jonny Reid and Wade Cunningham ran out of fuel on the last lap and in the second race, got faster and faster to take sixth at the flag and seventh overall for the round, taking more valuable points. Ant Pedersen and Matt Halliday endured an even tougher time. Halliday was spun in Race 1 and that cost the crew two laps and any chance of success. In Race 2 they finished eighth for 13th overall.
Tasman’s Daniel Gaunt and Andrew Waite – in only the team’s second SuperTourer event – were right on the pace, and in Race 2 were at the sharp end for the first part of the race. Eighth overall was a good result, but the team would perhaps have hoped for a bit more after showing real speed.
Ninth overall were Andy Booth and Tony D’Alberto and this was another team that would leave Taupo a little disappointed after both drivers showed good qualifying pace and consistency. They never quite recovered from a D’Alberto drive through penalty in Race 1, however.
Rounding out the top ten were Colin Corkery and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished a solid tenth, the best performance for the Elf/Koba Batteries car in the series so far and a nice reward for team Racing Projects after the mammoth car rebuild following Corkery’s Manfeild shunt.
Father’s Day 400 – Overall result (Aggregate Race 1 and Race 2)
1 93 McLaughlin / Webb Auto Trader Direct Holden V8ST (Ashley Stichbury Trophy)
2 51 Perkins / Cassidy Mike Pero Mortgages M3 Racing Holden V8ST
3 47 McIntyre / Lester Blackwoods Protector JMR Ford V8ST
4 10 Moore / Kelly Skinny Mobile M3 Racing Holden V8ST
5 27 Baird / Pither PSR West United Video Ford V8ST
6 556 Richards / Bamber CRC Motornews JMR Ford V8ST
7 2 Reid / W.Cunningham International Motorsport Driven Ford V8ST
8 31 Gaunt / Waite Tasman Motorsports Valvoline Ford V8ST
9 23 Booth / D’Alberto AV8 Woodstock Holden V8ST
10 66 Corkery /Bleekemolen Elf/Koba Batteries Ford V8ST
11 99 Scott / Evans V8 Team4 Peak Oil Holden V8ST
12 22 Heimgartner / Morris AV8 Pink Batts/Superlux Holden V8ST
13 96 Pedersen / Halliday International Motorsport Driven Ford V8ST
14 32 M.Cunningham / Canto International Motorsport Ford V8ST
15 15 Manuell / Harrison ORIX M3 Racing Holden V8ST
16 12 Emery / Klien Supercheap Auto Holden V8ST
17 26 McLennan / Innes M2 Racing Ford V8ST
18 247 Fogg / Gardiner AFR Hydraulink Holden V8ST
19 8 Edgell / Chester Edgell Performance Racing Chesters Holden V8ST