Scott McLaughlin continues Supercars dominance, grabs pole at Ipswich SuperSprint

Saving his best for last, Supercars series leader Scott McLaughlin has claimed yet another pole position by topping qualifying for the Ipswich SuperSprint opening race at Queensland Raceway.

McLaughlin left it until the dying moments of the 15-minute session to clock a scorching one minute, 08.50 second lap and pip fellow Ford gun Chaz Mostert by 0.17 of a second.

It was the ninth pole of the year for McLaughlin ahead of the season's 19th race.

McLaughlin's teammate Fabian Coulthard was third quickest to complete a Ford 1-2-3.

Reigning Bathurst champion David Reynolds was the leading Holden driver in fourth, before the opening 39-lap race starting at 1615 AEST.

Mostert faces a nervous wait after stewards confirmed the Ford driver was under investigation for impeding Holden's Shane van Gisbergen during qualifying.

McLaughlin is aiming to extend his series lead at his home track this weekend after arriving at Ipswich with just a 131-point buffer over van Gisbergen, who qualified eighth fastest.

The early signs are good as McLaughlin looks to overcome a disappointing last round in Townsville.

"It sounds crazy but it felt like one of my best laps of the year," McLaughlin said of his qualifying effort.

"That one felt really good. We weren't amazing at practice ... but the car just made a massive leap forward then.

"It was about doing the right lap and executing it as best I can but I felt that was all that was left in it."

Today's practice pace-setter, seven-time series champ Jamie Whincup, qualified sixth fastest.

Whincup had hoped to make his presence felt in Ipswich after resurrecting his 2018 title hopes with a win and podium at the last Townsville round.

Whincup is fourth in the standings, just 403 points behind leader McLaughlin.

Supercars great Craig Lowndes had to be content with 10th in qualifying as he begins his swansong after announcing a fortnight ago he would retire from full- time racing at season's end.

The top 10 in qualifying were separated by just half a second.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22:  race winner Scott McLaughlin driver of the #17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Falcon FGX celebrates on the podium during race 1 for the Supercars Australian Grand Prix round at Albert Park on March 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)
Scott McLaughlin on the podium at the Australian GP. Source: Getty


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Supercars team denies claims they're forcing legend Craig Lowndes to retire

Claims that Craig Lowndes has been "pushed" into Supercars retirement have been dismissed by his Holden team boss ahead of this weekend's Ipswich round.

Three-time touring car champion Lowndes will be sentimental favourite at his 22nd and final Ipswich event after dropping the bombshell two weeks ago that this season would be his last as a full-time driver.

Lowndes has a record 12 wins at Ipswich and will be looking for lucky No.13 this weekend at the SuperSprint as he begins his final curtain call.

However, Lowndes' abrupt announcement in Townsville sparked rumours the 44-year- old was pressured into retirement by his team Red Bull Racing.

Fellow Supercars driver David Reynolds even put it on record, telling Fox Motorsport podcast that six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Lowndes was pushed by RBR.

"It's so clear he is being half-pushed out, or pushed out entirely," reigning Bathurst champ Reynolds said.

But RBR boss Roland Dane fired up over the suggestion before practice for the Ipswich SuperSprint began on Friday.

"To be honest, I couldn't care less what everyone else thinks about it," he told Fox Sports.

"Craig and I know the decision that he made, that I completely agree with and that I think was the right decision to make.

"He knows the facts. I know the facts.

"The only thing that really matters to me is ensuring that Craig is able to step out with his head held high."

Lowndes will switch to a co-driver enduro role next Supercars season while expected to juggle duties as a TV commentator and dabbling in the GT category with a rumoured debut at the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2019.

Dane said they had not worked out whether they would even replace Lowndes and run a third car next year.

Supercars stars Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen drive the other RBR entries.

"Again, I see all the keyboard warriors making their own minds up about what we are or aren't doing," Dane said.

"I can promise you that we have not made a decision yet on whether we'll run two, three or four cars next year."

Lowndes - fifth in the championship standings - last tasted victory at Ipswich in 2016.

He just missed the podium at the last round in Townsville, finishing fourth in both races.

Lowndes and Garth Tander are the only drivers to have raced at all 21 previous Ipswich rounds.

Ford's Scott McLaughlin leads the championship with 2,033 points, just 131 ahead of van Gisbergen with Reynolds third.

Craig Lowndes


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'No place like home' – Kiwi motocross star refuelling in Dunedin before final push for maiden world title

With two rounds to go in the world motocross series, Dunedin rider Courtney Duncan is closer than ever before to securing her maiden world series crown.

The 22-year-old leads the circuit by 21 points with two events remaining but with a break in her schedule, she's enjoyed the chance to relax at home and reflect on what has been a near perfect season.

"No place like home," she said.

"Very happy with how the season's gone. If you had of asked me at the start of the year had I been four rounds into the season and had a 20 point lead, I would have been really stoked with that."

Despite being one of the top riders for the previous two seasons, Duncan's never held a lead like this going into the final two events of the season.

It means winning those final few races might not even be necessary – a thought she admits has crossed her mind.

"You do have that in the back of your mind - you don't have to go crazy to get those extra three points to take the win.

"I think I even showed that at the last round where I had two second [place finishes]. I didn't exactly need to [win] there."

That's not always been the case for Duncan who in previous seasons felt winning was the only option.

"If it takes a third place and I’m champion, at the end of the day, honestly, it doesn’t matter because my goal is to be world champion."

The mid-season three month break came at the perfect time for Duncan as she nurses fractures in her right foot.

"I'm not stressing about it, we've got a bit of time on our hands and I just have to make sure that I get healthy and fully heal before I start back."

Duncan returns to her European base in Brussels next week, before the final two events in September.

Courtney Duncan is enjoying her time in Dunedin before the final two rounds. Source: 1 NEWS


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