Shane van Gisbergen recovers from double stack for great Sydney success
Shane van Gisbergen made up for lost time in a delayed opening pit stop to clinch a spectacular victory in the weekend’s 250km Supercars opening race at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Anton De Pasquale had qualified on pole, but when the lights went out it was Jamie Whincup who got the best start to lead into the first corner, De Pasquale pushing van Gisbergen back into the second corner.
The two Triple Eight Holdens had both chosen to use the super soft tire rather than the hard tire for the first stint, with van Gisbergen wasting no time in getting ahead of De Paaquale in the second lap to move up to second place, with Will Davison, Scott Pye and Nick Percat complete the first top six.
Lower in order, the returning Dvid Reynolds was forced off the track on the first lap to lose places, but quickly regained order after also switching to the super soft tire.
Pye quickly made his way past Davison in fourth place, with Zane Goddard also following suit to leave De Pasquale as the only driver in the top five on the hard tire. Pye then put pressure on De Pasquale before taking the lead on lap five, with the race subsequently being warned on lap seven when MacAuley Jones’ car pulled to the side of the circuit with engine problems.
With the pit window just opening, the whole peloton dived for the first mandatory stops, causing lots of traffic jams as the teams were forced to overtake the drivers.
Whincup regained the lead behind the safety car ahead of Pye and De Pasquale, with Goddard, Reynolds and Brodie Kostecki completing the top six and Cam Waters returning to eighth place as the lead driver on the supersoft.
Van Gisbergen meanwhile came out of sitstops in ninth place after being one of the losers while waiting for his teammate to be fixed.
The action resumed on lap 10 and Waters was a man on a mission as he sought to make the most of his tire choice, climbing to second place a lap and a half after the restart and then taking the lead from Whincup on the turn. two in the twelfth round.
His teammate Jack Le Brocq, who had also switched to supersoft, also pushed his way through the order to climb to second place with Will Brown following him to leave three supersoft cars on the podium.
Among the riders who still had room on the hard De Pasquale tire was the one who struggled as the poleman found himself dropping back down to eighth place at the end of the 14th lap, the DJR rider dissatisfied with a forceful move of Kostecki’s position on his across.
With the super soft tire noticeably faster than the hard, the top three quickly started to slip away and were joined by James Courtney as he brought a third Tickford car into the top four.
The performance of the tire had been one of the big unknowns leading up to the race, with the short nature of the first stint not answering any questions about the length of the softer option.
Waters however took full advantage of the tire holding longer than many expected to open up a five-second lead over Le Brocq, Whincup on the hard tire in fifth slipping more than 20 seconds behind as the first third of the race. was over.
Pye and Kostecki were just behind Whincup with Bryce Fullwood eighth as the only other rider on the softer tire. Fullwood was another driver to pull a forceful move on De Pasquale that would leave the Mustang with damage to the right rear, with van Gisbergen also taking the lead to demote the Ford to tenth place.
Fullwood was the first rider on the supersoft to come to a second stop at the end of lap 29 when the right rear tire cried enough, but the first four continued on track, although Whincup was now turning faster. – with the quartet trying to stay outside as long as possible before coming back.
Le Brocq went on lap 33 before returning to hard tires and Waters followed suit a lap later; almost collided with Fullwood who was inside on the last corner. Courtney also stopped to leave Brown in front as the only driver remaining on the supersoft, with Whincup and van Gisbergen behind; the latter having cleared his way to order during his second stint.
Brown went on lap 38 before stopping, but his long stint in the supersoft gave a number of teams the confidence to try and run longer than expected on the flag race, with Kostecki, De Pasquale and Chaz Mostert all at the front pits Brown to switch to the super-soft rubber.
Van Gisbergen stopped a second time at the end of the 44th lap and returned to the super soft tire he had used at the start, Whincup following in his footsteps a lap later.
When Zane Goddard then became the last rider to make the second mandatory stop, it was Waters who regained the lead from Brown and Le Brocq with Kostecki the best placed rider now on the supersoft having made his way. in front of Courtney.
Kostecki, however, found himself more than 20 seconds behind Waters and needed to gain the best part of a second per lap in an attempt to chase the leader.
However, there was a sting in the tail ahead, with light rain starting to fall to make the circuit conditions more and more greasy.
As Waters continued to lead the way, Brown in second moved closer to the lead, Le Brocq in third but with Kostecki coming in close. With ten laps to go, Kostecki took third place with Mostert following and the pair then started after the first two – which found themselves almost together with seven laps to go.
With the rain getting stronger, Mostert took third place from Kostecki in turn two after passing the first turn with six laps to go and van Gisbergen then cleared Kostecki at the end of the lap to move up to fourth while he was making up for lost time in his the first stop continued.
Despite being on a set of used supersofts, van Gisbergen then secured clearance on Mostert to grab third place and with four laps to go the points leader was now less than four seconds off. the head.
In one lap, van Gisbergen moved closer to Brown and took the lead on turn three before taking the lead from Waters to leave him in the lead with two to go.
Whincup was following his teammate in order and after edging out Mostert he did a light job on both Brown and Waters to leave the two Triple Eight cars leading the pack.
Van Gisbergen duly took the flag for a victory that brings him one step closer to the title ahead of Whincup, with Waters holding on to take last place on the podium with third place.
Brown would lose late as De Pasquale, Mostert and Pye all passed the Holden in the final two laps, with the top ten completed by Percat, Kostecki and Will Davison.