Shane van Gisbergen has kept up his incredible winning streak, claiming yet another win in the second race of the Penrite Oils Sandown SuperSprint, conquering the treacherous wet-to-dry weather conditions to lead home Cameron Waters and Jamie Whincup.
It’s the Kiwi’s fifth straight Supercars race win, including yesterday’s stellar performance, the lockout at the round one Bathurst 1000 sprint event, and his Bathurst 1000 triumph in 2020.
The race started in wet conditions, with teams kicking things off on wet tyres. Although many have cited that the forecast was set for worse weather later in the afternoon. But, as the race wore on, conditions actually improved; prompting a switch to slicks.
The opening lap was a very chaotic one. Whincup got the best start of the front row, only for him to spear through the grass at turn three. The seven-time champ somehow held the lead until the end of the lap, when an enterprising Chaz Mostert battled by both squabbling Red Bull stars.
By the following lap van Gisbergen had also gone by Whincup. And he looked set to get by Mostert (the Walkinshaw driver straight-lining through the grass and sand at the penultimate corner at the end of lap three), only for a safety car to provide brief reprieve.
The safety car had been called over the stationary car of Macauley Jones. There had been just as much chaos behind the leaders. David Reynolds was spun out of position following contact with Tim Slade, and Mark Winterbottom gave away a position in the top 10 after running wide at Dandenong Road.
When the race restarted on lap nine the order was Mostert, van Gisbergen, Whincup, Waters, Andre Heimgartner, James Courtney, Will Davison, Scott Pye, Anton De Pasquale, and Nick Percat in 10th. Van Gisbergen had a lightning restart, and by turn one he reclaimed the lead.
There was plenty of chopping and changing behind by virtue of a terrible opening lap for Whincup. By turn four he had dropped from third to sixth, seeing Waters, Heimgartner, and Courtney all improve. Things at the front stabilised, van Gisbergen building a 1.8-second buffer to Mostert while Whincup slowly chipped away at the Mustangs that passed him.
Vacant from all the major battles was Anton de Pasquale. After showing good pace earlier in the weekend, the No. 17 Mustang was struggling with a mystery illness. After initially fighting in the top 10, de Pasquale plummeted down the order with an apparent lack of race pace.
By lap 17, the track had started to dry, although it still had some damp verges. The uncertainty meant that few drivers made their pit-stop early, all of them instead waiting to see if the conditions would become definitively wet or definitively dry. People finally started rolling into the pits in lap 18, with the leaders staying out slightly longer.
Van Gisbergen and Mostert both peeled off for rubber on lap 22, the field all transferring to slick tyres (most being brand new). By lap 24 the field had been fully purified; van Gisbergen now leading Waters by 2.6 seconds from Mostert, Heimgartner, and Whincup. Waters had stolen second from Mostert during the latter’s out-lap via a physical pass at turn three. Heimgartner meanwhile had charged up the order as one of the fastest cars on track.
As the final laps approached, van Gisbergen looked comfortable in the front. The big battle, for the second day in a row, was between Waters and Mostert … this time for second place. With six laps to go the pair were bolted together, near enough making side-by-side contact on the back straight as the track got more and more dry.
In undoubtedly the most incredible moment of the race, Mostert tagged Waters’ rear end at turn one with two laps to go, spinning the Monster Mustang. Mostert immediately slammed on the brakes to not pass Waters, in order to ‘readdress’ the pass, and in the process Heimgartner and Whincup arrived on the scene at pace.
Heimgartner just about nipped by all of them in one hit, only to be held wide by Waters at turn three. Whincup emerged as the real winner of the bunch a lap later, when Mostert and Heimgartner both drifted wide at turn one. In the end, van Gisbergen crossed the line to win all by himself some 12.7 seconds ahead of Waters.
Whincup, Mostert, Heimgartner, Percat, Courtney, Scott Pye, Slade, and Davison rounded out the top 10.
|1||Shane van Gisbergen||36 laps|
|12||Jack Le Brocq||37.533|
|20||Garry Jacobson||1 lap|
|21||Jack Smith||1 lap|
|22||David Reynolds||4 laps|
|DNF||Anton De Pasquale|