Anton De Pasquale has won the second race of the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend, subsequently ticking a flurry of different boxes. It’s the young gun’s first win for the team since switching in the off-season, and the win represent’s Ford’s 400th victory in Supercars competition.
The win was also Shell V-Power Racing’s first 1-2 finish with its new driver line-up; Will Davison claiming second. Shane van Gisbergen rounded out the podium after a grand recovery, having started the race from 13th on the grid.
De Pasquale started the race from pole, alongside Shell V-Power teammate Davison, with Tim Slade and Andre Heimgartner on the second row. The two Red Bull Ampol Holden drivers had to start from 13th and 15th respectively, following a sub-par combined performance in qualifying.
De Pasquale held onto the lead through the first complex, with Davison tucking behind. In the battle for third were was chaos. After initially threatening for second, Slade drifted wide through the dirt at turn five (a little muscle-up from Heimgartner playing a role), forcing everyone to ‘check up’.
Ironically, it was Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert tripping over each other as a result. Waters took on the most damage, with his entire right rear wheel assembly ripped off the car. Waters was out of contention, coming into pit-lane at the end of the lap. Waters was out, and Mostert rejoined several laps down.
In the aftermath, Nick Percat and David Reynolds plummeted through the field after they had a spin of their own at turn six off camera. Heimgartner and James Courtney were the beneficiaries, lifting to third and fourth.
Brodie Kostecki and Shane van Gisbergen were fifth and sixth, both gaining seven spots in the opening laps. Fabian Coulthard, having started down the back, made an enormous 16 spots in the first laps.
The two Shell Mustangs led, but looked ropey. Davison almost relinquished his spot after a big tyre lock-up on lap two, and De Pasquale did the same on lap three; only retaining the lead by the skin of his teeth.
Courtney, the leading Kostecki, and Mark Winterbottom stopped on lap six. De Pasquale reacted, pitting the next lap with Scott Pye, Slade, and Will Brown. Heimgartner stopped on lap eight, stalling in pit-lane twice to drop him down the order. Davison stopped on lap 11, leaving van Gisbergen alone at the front to do a much longer first stint.
Behind him De Pasquale was the leader ‘on corrected’, over Courtney, Davison, Brodie Kostecki, and Heimgartner. Courtney and Davison swapped spots on lap 14 at turn six. Van Gisbergen finally stopped on lap 17, eventually slotting between Davison and Courtney on fresh rubber with seven laps to go.
With five laps to go, De Pasquale had just a few tenths in hand over Davison, with van Gisbergen and Courtney keeping a watching brief. On the other side of things, Heimgartner was fading; losing sixth to Bryce Fullwood and coming under pressure late from a sublime Thomas Randle.
With four laps to go van Gisbergen had caught up to the two Shell cars, leaving Courtney in a lonely fourth. As the Kiwi applied the blow torch to Davison, the gap to De Pasquale swelled to a second. If van Gisbergen wanted to challenge De Pasquale he had to get by Davison quickly.
This wouldn’t happen, though. With Davison able to position his car effectively in the closing laps, van Gisbergen was unable to get by. In the end De Pasquale claimed the win by just under a second, with Davison and van Gisbergen in tow.
Behind Courtney in fourth, Brodie Kostecki claimed a credible fifth ahead of Fullwood, with Heimgartner able to fend off Randle for seventh. Team18’s Winterbottom and Pye rounded out the top 10.