The two Kiwis went door-to-door in the closing stages of Sunday's final heat in Townsville, a late Safety Car putting van Gisbergen on the superior strategy for a nine-lap dash to the flag.
With four laps to go van Gisbergen passed McLaughlin for the lead at Turn 11, running the Penske Ford wide in the process so that Jamie Whincup – McLaughlin's only real title rival – could sneak past as well.
The on-track altercation quickly spilled into a post-race war of words, McLaughlin labelling the move "average" and calling the tactics "silly games", while van Gisbergen referenced "debriss" – the alleged code word central to McLaughlin's controversial Bathurst 1000 win last year.
Even a few days on, McLaughlin is refusing to back down from his comments. In a blog for sponsor Grove Racing he wrote that while he acknowledges that keeping quiet would have been easier, he thinks drivers should speak their mind for the good of the series.
"Look, afterwards I should have said nothing," he wrote.
"On reflection I was the one who inflamed the situation, but isn’t that what we want from our drivers? To speak their mind and be honest?
"I was clearly ticked off – more for the battle that was lost between Jamie and I for second, and for the fans who missed out on seeing what would have been an awesome run to the line between the two guys gunning for the title.
"I said it was a pretty average move – and a few days later, I haven’t changed my view.
"I’ve still got the best team behind me. I’ve still got a brilliant car underneath me.
"And maybe a few choice words can help add more spice and eyeballs for what’s to come."
McLaughlin leads Whincup by 143 points with three events, worth a total of 900 points, to go.