Chaz Mostert has claimed his second Supercars race win in a row; winning the opening race of the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown, and leading home Cameron Waters and Nick Percat.
Shane van Gisbergen dominated the opening phase of the race after a massive multi-car crash on lap one claimed three of his main challengers; Anton De Pasquale, Scott Pye, and Mark Winterbottom. But, a dramatic very long pit-stop saw the Kiwi tumble down the order. He eventually recovered to finish 13th.
There’s several questions still to be answered. Percat spent the second half of the race under investigation for improper tyre pressures and the fourth-placed James Courtney having had a late-race clash with Brodie Kostecki.
The race started with question marks over the health of van Gisbergen’s Holden. On the grid his team were spotted attacking the front left corner of it, with reports that the bumper hadn’t been bolted on properly. The other big talking point was tyres, with this weekend’s event marking the debut of the new Dunlop super soft compound.
Come race start, though, van Gisbergen’s fortunes improved greatly. Winterbottom had a terrible jump with the engine cutting out in his second phase. This left van Gisbergen diving with polesitter Anton De Pasquale. Van Gisbergen wanted the lead, deciding to make a huge lunge inside the Shell Mustang.
The move was messy but done, with van Gisbergen taking the lead and comprehensive dramas unfolding in his wake. Scott Pye attempted to make the most of van Gisbergen and De Pasquale being one out and one wide, in making a dive of his own. But in doing this he clouted the No. 17 entry, sending it into a clumsy spin.
This forced everyone behind to fan around the stopped car. Some, like Jamie Whincup, took to the grass. Others, like Winterbottom, clouted the stranded Mustang. Todd Hazelwood made the biggest impact with De Pasquale, with both Team Sydney entries and Jack Smith also crunching.
The race was instantly over with De Pasquale, Fabian Coulthard, and Hazelwood. It was over for Winterbottom, too, in part due to mechanical gremlins from the race start. On top of his pit-lane visits under yellow, Pye also inherited a penalty for his role in the crash.
What the race left was a very different order; van Gisbergen now leading Percat, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters, Jake Kostecki, Tim Slade, Brodie Kostecki, and Kurt Kostecki. The survivors circulated under safety car for six laps before restarting on lap seven.
There was predictably plenty of biff and barge in the mid-pack, prompting a wave of mid-field runners to make their first stops when the window opened to get out of the drama. At the front Mostert was the most threatening, getting by Percat on lap 10.
Percat was the first leader to stop, doing so on lap 15. Mostert peeled off on lap 20, and van Gisbergen on lap 22. This was where van Gisbergen’s chance to win again fell apart. His left-rear wheelman couldn’t get his rattle gun attached, with the subsequent chaos resulting in a 30-second pit-stop. This dropped the Kiwi well down the order from a 2.3-second lead, and handed the corrected lead to Mostert.
After van Gisbergen was eliminated from the lead pack by pit issues, it was Percat who looked to be next to be struck down. The R&J Batteries driver was placed under investigation for having improper tyre pressures.
By the time the order was corrected Mostert led Percat, Waters, Brodie Kostecki, Will Brown, James Courtney, Jake Kostecki, and Kurt Kostecki. Even without the looming potential penalty, Percat was under threat of losing his spot to Waters. The duo battled on lap 31; a failed attempt from Waters at turn one followed by a slightly physical pass at turn four.
The order didn’t necessarily tell the full story. The likes of Brodie Kostecki and Brown were struggling, having pitted very early in the race. Brodie Kostecki was under pressure from Courtney, and the two came to blows at turn four with the end of the race in sight. The Erebus driver drove straight through the infield to rejoin after his spin in front of Courtney. Kostecki ended up incurring a five-second time penalty.
At the front, Mostert was able to grab a clear-cut 12-second win over Waters, with Percat keeping third place for now while investigation is ongoing. Likewise, Courtney took fourth even after the contact with Kostecki.
Brown, Jake Kostecki, Kurt Kostecki, Tim Slade, Brodie Kostecki (after his penalty was applied) and Thomas Randle completed the top 10. Van Gisbergen ended up recovering to 13th. He finished one spot behind Whincup, who also spent the race grinding back through the pack.
|13||Shane van Gisbergen||28.509|
|21||Jack Le Brocq||1:00.638|
|22||Scott Pye||2 laps|
|23||Mark Winterbottom||9 laps|
|DNF||Anton De Pasquale|