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McLaughlin, Whincup pop Pukekohe format

NZN 5/11/2016 Ben McKay

Scott McLaughlin and Jamie Whincup have urged Supercars organisers to run longer races in New Zealand's sole meet for next year after a bland day's racing at Pukekohe Park on Saturday.

In the series' penultimate meet, there wasn't a successful overtaking move by the top seven drivers across 70 laps except for moves off the grid.

The reversion to four 100km races has negated the use of pit-stops, and therefore any strategy as the drivers championship comes down to the wire.

Hot competition between the series-leading Red Bull duo of Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup gave the big crowd plenty to cheer for, but it was hard to shake the impression that New Zealand racing fans were being short-changed.

McLaughlin said the cost of crossing the Tasman Sea explained the decision to run shorter races and leave fuel rigs back in Australia.

"I personally don't like it," the 23-year-old said.

"I understand why we do it, saving costs and fuel rigs and all that.

"A strategy always mixes it up but at the end of the day we've got to think about the teams as well."

Whincup agreed with his young colleague.

"Pit stops are good and I think we should do that over here," he said.

"I think we should come over here a couple of times as well if we can - or change a tyre."

Then came a less serious suggestion from the six-time champion.

"Maybe a jump over the back straight would be cool," he joked.

In addition to the lack of strategy, other factors contributed to the lack of movement through the field.

The fast Pukekohe circuit has few turns suitable for overtaking.

More races also means fewer points on offer for each race and a smaller incentive to make risky moves with not as much on the line.

"If you really wanted to move forward you had to have a really big crack and be a little bit more desperate than you would be," Chaz Mostert said.

"We'll see if anyone else does some moves tomorrow."

Van Gisbergen was the chief beneficiary of the format, qualifying at the front and grabbing a first and second place to maintain a 148-point lead.

McLaughlin said both drivers and fans enjoyed longer races at Pukekohe and everyone would benefit by switching back to at least one 200km drive.

"The races we've had across the years is a testament to the series," he said.

"When we come out here and back to the old way and how we had problems, it's obvious why we changed."

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