Shane van Gisbergen was won the first race of the 2021 Supercars Championship, benefitting from a mechanical failure for Cam Waters to claim victory at Mount Panorama.
Waters led the opening eight laps before a power steering gremlin compelled the Mustang to park himself in the garage.
Jumping to the lead, van Gisbergen then dominated the middle portion of the race. His sizable lead after the final pitstop then proved to be an insurance marker from a hard-charing Chaz Mostert on the run home.
From the start, Waters led a fast-starting van Gisbergen along Mountain Straight for the first tour. De Pasquale fronted a Dick Johnson Racing 3-4 while Tim Slade fell back from the front row to fifth.
Andre Heimgartner was a big mover, muscling his way up to tenth after the opening lap.
However, the Kiwi soon had his race unfold when he was bumped off the road at the final corner by James Courtney. Courtney attempted a lunge on his rival at the Chase, levelling himself with Heimgartner on the run into the last turn.
Locking his rear wheel, Courtney then pushed Heimgartner off the track, gifting a pair of positions to Will Brown.
Heimgartner’s race failed to improve when he bowled a wide at turn one a few laps later. A dangerous rejoin, which had him narrowly avoid having Brodie Kostecki rear-end him, had the Kiwi sentenced a drive-through penalty.
He ultimately finished 15th.
After securing provisional pole in qualifying and a second row start in the shootout, De Pasquale looked to be one of the pre-race favourites. But a mistake at the cutting proved costly as the walls of Mount Panorama took a chunk out of the side of the Mustang, ending the race for the #100.
With the race under safety car, the entire field ambled into the pitlane. Van Gisbergen emerged at the front of the queue, with Waters spied having engine trouble. The disgruntled Tickford driver was then instructed to park up in the garage, extinguishing any hope of a race win.
Van Gisbergen commanded the restart, ahead of Bryce Fullwood and Slade. Most of the field drove conservatively as the zeroed in on the window to make their final pitstop.
Slade was an early stopper, as was Fullwood. However, an overcut strategy by Chaz Mostert had the Walkinshaw Andretti United car rocket into second.
What followed as an immense push by Mostert, finding a purple patch in speed and reeling in a seven-second deficit to van Gisbergen with each closing lap.
A large shunt into the wall at the dipper from Slade threatened to neutralise the race under yellow with five laps in hand. Fortunately the race was able to run to the finish unimpeded.
It was a massive dissapointment for the Blanchard Racing crew, whose speed over the day deserved a much bigger reward.
Up front, van Gisbergen’s consistent pace and subsequent margin would suffice in fending off any chance of a late attack. The Red Bull driver duly took the chequered flag, snaring the lead in the championship points as well.
Will Davison ended up behind Mostert to take third in his return to the DJR stable.
Mark Winterbottom was fourth after a strong showing, ahead of Fullwood who bagged a top-five.
The other Kiwi in the field was Fabian Coulthard and he finished 14th after a muted 40-lapper.
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Jack Le Brocq
|Anton De Pasquale