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Red Bulls trade wins, blows at Pukekohe

NZN 4/11/2016 Ben McKay

Shane van Gisbergen has moved to within touching distance of a maiden Supercars crown after sharing the spoils with teammate and title rival Jamie Whincup at the Auckland Supersprint.

The Aucklander split a pair of one-two results, with Whincup to keep his 148-point championship lead intact with just four races remaining in the season.

The Red Bull Racing duo were untouchable at Pukekohe Park, locking out the front row of the grid and the top two positions on the podium all Saturday, showing the dominance that has earned them yet another teams championship.

The first race was a procession.

Whincup jumped pole sitter van Gisbergen off the line and wasn't headed as van Gisbergen settled for runner-up.

The second was a fight.

Determined not to let a second pole position slip, van Gisbergen resisted Whincup's aggressive moves to rapturous applause from his home crowd.

"It was pretty distracting, I had some dude down the back straight counting down the laps and I was trying not to get flustered," he said.

"It's always a nice feeling to win at home."

Whincup made three strong efforts in the opening laps to overtake van Gisbergen, with the pair taking high-speed corners and the home straight side-by-side on lap three.

Each time the Kiwi responded, and Whincup's challenge was effectively over on lap 18 when he missed his apex at turn five and was forced to take evasive action.

"I had a bit of a crack. It's great to be able to race hard and fair," Whincup said.

"At the end of the day there were plenty of happy Kiwis on the hill."

The results mean the championship will come down to the final weekend even if Whincup slips in the shower on Sunday morning, with van Gisbergen unable to gather a lead big enough to win the title in front of his home crowd.

But with 450 points to play for in Auckland and the season-ending Homebush meet, the 27-year-old needs only to finish sixth in the final four races to claim a maiden championship.

Whincup has vowed to take the championship fight to the wire, saying there's "no point" that he would give up on a seventh title.

"We'll go right through to the last lap on Sunday at Homebush," he said.

The day's biggest incident happened in race one, when Chris Pither sent Jason Bright off the track at 180km/h.

Bright careered through the grass and hit the wall leading to the pit lane entry.

He walked away from the crash but unsure of whether his Commodore will be repaired in time to finish the New Zealand meet.

"I copped a pretty big whack in the right rear. We'll see what the guys can salvage," he said.

Scott McLaughlin filled out the podium on race one, while fellow young gun Chaz Mostert claimed third in race two.

McLaughlin, who sits fourth in the championship, whittled the margin to third-placed Craig Lowndes on a productive day in his home country.

His third and seventh places, compared with Lowndes' 16th and 15th finishes, puts the Volvo man within 22 points of third place.

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