Shane van Gisbergen has successfully completed a full clean sweep of the Penrite Oils Sandown SuperSprint, further extending his lead of the 2021 Supercars championship and earning him his third successive undefeated round in the series.
While van Gisbergen’s form has been the biggest story of the weekend, the Sunday race may be remembered more for a stellar performance from Erebus Motorsport’s two rookie racers. Brodie Kostecki finished a sublime second, after briefly threatening to challenge van Gisbergen for victory. Will Brown, meanwhile, finished seventh after starting down the field. David Reynolds completed a surprise podium to claim his first podium aboard a Ford Mustang.
The race kicked off in even worse conditions than the Sunday curtain raiser had, with most suggesting there was even more rain present, some tipping it would last the duration of the race. Van Gisbergen was once again on pole, with Jamie Whincup lined up alongside in second. Will Davison and David Reynolds made up the second row, with protagonists from earlier in the weekend Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert down in ninth and 10th.
From the inside van Gisbergen took the lead off the start, with Whincup and Reynolds slotting into third and fourth. Apart from Mostert spearing through the grass at turn three and James Courtney spinning one corner later it was actually a relatively clean opening lap. By the second lap Reynolds had got by Whincup, with van Gisbergen some three seconds up the road.
There was shuffling all the way through the top 10 early. Brodie Kostecki had enjoyed a great opening few laps to sit fourth by lap four, helped in part by a spectacular spin from Davison; dumping the Shell V-Power Mustang down to 11th. Andre Heimgartner was just in behind Kostecki, in what was turning out to be a strong showing for the Grove Kelly Racing Mustangs.
Kostecki’s punch continued, quickly dispatching Whincup for third place at the end of lap seven. Like both Kelly Mustangs, both Erebus Commodores were on a tear. Will Brown had also made a stupendous amount of pace, passing 12 cars by lap 10 to be seventh. Kostecki’s pace was stunning; the Super2 graduate claiming several fastest-lap gongs in a row.
By lap 12, Kostecki had rounded by Reynolds for second in what was becoming a spellbinding drive. By lap 14, he had trimmed some two seconds from van Gisbergen’s formerly six-second gap. Similarly, Brown was up to fifth, having tip-toed around Davison and Heimgartner.
Much like in the race earlier in the day, drivers were keen to stay out for longer, although this time it was in order to mitigate the hurt from how long it takes to warm the Dunlop wet tyre. Whincup was one of the first front-runners to stop, peeling off on lap 17. This middling phase was all about van Gisbergen and Kostecki tracking blows on the time-sheets, the margin between them settling at around 3.5 seconds. There was also a lingering question about track condition. The rain had stopped, some some wondered if the end of the race might bring a dry line.
Van Gisbergen finally stopped on lap 26, with Kostecki electing to not make an immediate reactionary stop. Instead he (and Reynolds and Brown) stayed out very long to try and achieve some form of overcut. Kostecki was naturally the last of them to stop, doing so on lap 34 with just two to go. Van Gisbergen reassumed the race lead, and Kostecki took second place over Reynolds, Whincup, Davison, Waters, and then Brown in seventh.
Apart from a brief trip through the turn-three dirt on cold tyres for Kostecki, the balance of the race unfolded without change; van Gisbergen earning a 10-second win over Kostecki and Reynolds. Behind Brown, Todd Hazelwood, Nick Percat, and Mark Winterbottom rounded out the top 10. Missing from the 10 was Mostert; the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver succumbing to a throttle cable problem early, eventually finishing five laps down.
More to come.