Shane Van Gisbergen has played his cards to perfection and has made amends for missing out on last week’s last-gasp loss by cruising to a dominant victory in the opening race of round two of the Racing Local Eseries.
Contested on a virtual Road America course, a field of 60 Riley Daytona Prototypes lined up for the 10-lap feature race in which Van Gisbergen was untouchable once his nearest rival, Earl Bamber, was tipped into a spin with a handful of laps remaining.
Van Gisbergen’s victory coming as the 30-year-old intentionally backed off in the four-lap heat race which was used to determine the grid order for the main event.
Set for a certain victory, Van Gisbergen deliberately slowed down to eventually cross the line in seventh and ensure the Red Bull Holden driver would start on the front row for the main event.
The start of the feature race was punctuated by a collision between Nick Cassidy and Simon Evans. The Super Formula champion was challenging for the lead before coming unstuck and spinning back into the path of an unfortunate Evans.
The incident allowed Van Gisbergen to build a comfortable margin over the challenging pack now headed by Earl Bamber.
Though the double Le Mans 24 Hour winner was valiant in his pursuit of his rival and Van Gisbergen quickly was compelled to defend as Bamber closed to with a two-tenths.
Unquestionably quicker, Bamber was deliberately feeding off the throttle into the Moraine Sweep to remain behind Van Gisbergen in a calculated play of tactics.
But it was ultimately to no avail as Bamber would be turned by Andre Heimgartner three laps to from the chequered flag.
Van Gisbegren was the incident’s largest beneficiary as he built out a 4.0s margin which he would maintain all the way to the finish.
Further back a rejuevanted Scott McLaughlin was scything his way towards the front after an uncharacteristically pre-qualifying race left him starting further back in the grid than anticipated.
The double defending-Supercars Champion would make his way up to fifth at the finish, trailing 4s behind Heimagrtner, Tom Blomqvist and Jaden Ransley.
Next up the grid will trade slicks for dirt and head to Eldora Speedway in Ohio for the final event of the second round.