Chaz Mostert has won Race 18 in Darwin, holding off Anton De Pasquale for victory. It was a thrilling last few laps following a lap 29 safety car restart. Race 17 winner Cam Waters took the last spot on the podium.
Shane van Gisbergen ran into Will Davison on turn one following the restart, damaging the power steering on his car, resulting in a 15 second time penalty and relegating him the the rear of the field. Will Davison wasn’t damaged in the contact, but pushing wide cost him several places and put him back to 5th.
It was a good start for De Pasquale as he jumped pole sitter Davison to take the lead into turn one, ahead of Cam Waters and Shane van Gisbergen, who also jumped his teammate Broc Feeney at the start.
Brodie Kostecki and Jayden Ojeda made contact on lap one, resulting in damage for wildcard Ojeda and a puncture for Kostecki. Todd Hazlewood also sustained damage in a separate incident and was required to pit on lap 5 for repairs. All three cars were able to pit without safety car interventions.
Chris Pither and David Reynolds pitted on lap 8, the first of the field to take their mandatory stops.
Up front, the Shell V-Power Racing pair pulled away from the field, putting over two seconds on third place sitter Waters by lap 13. Van Gisbergen managed to take P3 off Waters on lap 17 at turn 5.
Chaz Mostert also made his stop early on lap 9, and came out onto the track in clear air. This strategy worked well for Mostert as he made up quick ground on those yet to stop.
Leader De Pasquale came in on lap 19 to come out behind Mostert, but on much fresher tyres. Van Gisbergen emerged from his stop in ninth, just behind teammate Broc Feeney. The two Shell V-Power cars maintained track position after their stops, even after both took four new tyres in longer stops. De Pasquale will be investigated after the race for potentially running over a wheel gun as he left his box.
Zak Best triggered a safety car on lap 26, hitting the guard rail and going into the tyre wall after side-by-side contact with Gary Jacobson damaged his steering. The safety car worked wonders for the early leaders of the race, allowing De Pasquale, Davison and van Gisbergen to catch up to Mostert who was on much older tyres.
Van Gisbergen overtook Davison following the restart, running him wide at turn one. The cars made contact and damaged the power steering on the Red Bull Racing car. This saw him drop to the rear of the pack and Davison to 5th. To make matters worse for the kiwi, a 15 second time penalty was handed to him for his role in the incident.
Kostecki and Jacobson were both awarded penalties at this point for their involvement in earlier incidents.
With van Gisbergen and Davison out of contention, Mostert’s main competition was that of De Pasquale.
Waters managed to overtake Red Bull youngster Broc Feeney for third on the penultimate lap, with the top six all in close proximity heading into the final lap.
It turned into a last lap thriller, with De Pasquale not quite being able to pull off a move on Mostert for the win. The battle for third was also tight, with bumper-to-bumper racing between Feeney, Waters, Davison and Heimgartner. Feeney dropped further down the order to finish sixth, with kiwi driver Heimgartner driving from 11th to fifth after the restart.
Scott Pye failed to make the grid for the race after the damage he sustained in Race 17 was too much to repair on time. He had qualified seventh for the final race of the weekend.
Race 18 Top 10
1st- Chaz Mostert
2nd- Anton De Pasquale
3rd- Cam Waters
4th– Will Davison
5th- Andre Heimgartner
6th- Broc Feeney
7th- Will Brown
8th- Jake Kostecki
9th- Mark Winterbottom
10th- Nick Percat