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Battle of the New Zealanders, in Sydney

For the best part of the last decade New Zealanders have grown to dominate the Repco Supercars Championship, but two drivers have shared the last five titles leading to some spicy moments including this one at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The rivalry between DJR Team Penske, Triple Eight Race Engineering and its two New Zealand chargers was building in Scott McLaughlin’s first season with the legendary Ford squad.

Chaz Mostert and McLaughlin’s DJR Team Penske teammate Fabian Coulthard were the sole two drivers to break the stranglehold of the lead two New Zealanders during the season up to this point.

Sydney Motorsport Park marked the ninth round of the season where McLaughlin arrived with a 129-point margin from van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup.

McLaughlin scored pole for the opening race of the weekend and was leading ahead of van Gisbergen before a safety car bunched up the field. Van Gisbergen overlapped during the restart where it became physical as the Holden bumped the Ford along the main straight.

Van Gisbergen entered Turn 1 in the lead as further contact was made at the next corner where the Triple Eight Race Engineering VF Commodore was spun by McLaughlin leading to a concertina involving David Reynolds and Whincup.

McLaughlin race on to 10th after being handed a 15s penalty, while van Gisbergen recovered to 15th.

“Yeah, what can I say? Absolute balls up on my behalf,” McLaughlin reflected after the race.

“Sorry to him and his team — I saw that Jamie got damage too. Not the way I want to do it. Glad for Shell V-Power Racing to at least get a win.

“Again, sorry to everyone at home.

“Sorry, it’s not my style.”

Although van Gisbergen was accepting of McLaughlin’s apology, he was frustrated by the severity of the penalty.

“(I) got in front of Scotty and he’s hit me once and I tried to correct it, then he’s finished me off,” van Gisbergen said.

“To his credit he was straight here apologising; all good, we’ll box on.

“The thing I couldn’t believe is that he only got 15 seconds and we’re up the back. But bigger people than me make those decisions.”

Coulthard was victorious in this race, while Whincup took the win on Sunday to close the title race.