Kiwi Andre Heimgartner has claimed his first race win in the Supercars championship, dominating the opening race of the OTR SuperSprint at The Bend after starting from pole, collecting the win comfortably despite inheriting a five-second time penalty during the race.
The win breaks Heimgartner’s race win hoodoo, while also breaking Kelly Grove Racing’s race victory drought; their last win coming from Rick Kelly in 2018 at Winton Raceway. Chaz Mostert finished second, with Anton De Pasquale completing the podium.
It was a race to forget for Shane van Gisbergen. The series leader finished seventh, after his race was shot by a poor pit-stop and a late race tour through the grass.
The race started on a damp but drying race track surface. Most of the field started the race on wets, while most of Brad Jones Racing at the back of the grid started on slicks. The track had wet verges, but with no rain present it looked like a handy gamble.
Off the start Mostert was able to nab the lead off Heimgartner. Anton De Pasquale spent three corners alongside Heimgartner before getting the lead … only for the positions to swap once again through turns five and six.
Mostert ran wide from the lead, allowing De Pasauqle to briefly steal the lead before he too ran wide at the following corner. Heimgartner therefore, despite a flat start, inherited the lead back.
The biggest mover on the opening lap was van Gisbergen. The Red Bull Ampol pilot made three positions, carving through to third place. Van Gisbergen’s pace was fluctuating. The Kiwi was initially all over Mostert for second, only for the Walkinshaw Andretti driver to regain his composure and build a buffer.
Heimgartner was relishing in fresh air. By lap three he led by over four seconds, and by lap six that margin was over six seconds.
Lap six also saw the first of the pit-stops among the wet-tyre runners; Waters, Davison, David Reynolds, and Scott Pye included. The timing of the stops just happened to align with when the slick-tyre runners had started to light up the timesheets with the quickest splits.
The following lap, van Gisbergen peeled off along with De Pasquale, Brodie Kostecki, and James Courtney. Van Gisbergen’s stop was a rough one; the air spike operator unable to reach the spike inlet. The subsequent mucking around cost van Gisbergen buckets of positions.
Heimgartner pitted on lap eight; Mostert, Jamie Whincup and more. Heimgartner’s stop went smoothly, although he did make minor contact with Whincup upon returning to the fast lane. Officialdom didn’t look too kindly on the contact, and handed the Kiwi a five-second time penalty.
By lap 11, everyone who started the race on wet tyres had stopped, leaving Heimgartner a precarious seven-seconds ahead of Mostert. The curious case was Nick Percat, who was the leader out of those who had started on slicks. Percat wasn’t quite in the equation for a win, but was highly likely to climb well up the grid relative to where he started from.
Behind Heimgarter and Mostert, De Pasquale was third ‘on corrected’ ahead of Waters, Whincup, Davison, Courtney, and van Gisbergen who had essentially fallen from third to eighth or ninth thanks to the pit-lane air-jack skirmish. Waters was lucky to be where he was, after briefly spearing off at turn one earlier in the race.
Todd Hazelwood peeled out of second position on lap 16, and Percat finally stopped on lap 21, leaving Heimgartner to resume with the lead formally. Percat resumed the race in third, right in front of an already fierce battle between De Pasquale and Waters. The Shell Mustang was able to round up Percat easily, but Waters struggled – triggering a great dice in the race’s closing stages.
Once Percat’s tyres were up to temperature and he was in the groove, he dispatched De Pasquale and went after De Pasquale for third place. It was a miraculous position for Percat, given that the former Bathurst 1000 champ had started from last place. Sadly for Percat a mistake saw him actually lose a spot to Waters on the final lap.
There were no such mistakes for Heimgartner. Despite the penalty and the quirky conditions, the Kelly Grove racer was able to cruise to a clear-cut victory by a huge 8.9 seconds over Mostert. The Walkinshaw driver’s day was a quiet one … finishing some five seconds ahead of De Pasquale.
Waters, Percat, Whincup, van Gisbergen, Davison, Brodie Kostecki, and Jack Le Brocq completed the top 10. Van Gisbergen slid down the order a few spots after an off through the grass, in a race he’ll be keen to forget.
|3||Anton de Pasquale||13.913|
|7||Shane van Gisbergen||16.916|
|10||Jack Le Brocq||36.996|
|25||Mark Winterbottom||2 laps|