New Zealanders have finished first, second, third, and fourth after another chaotic Supercars race at The Bend; Shane van Gisbergen emerging on top with his third race win of the season.
Andre Heimgartner earned his second podium of the season in second, after performing a very impressive pass to get by two cars in one corner. Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard finished third and fourth. It’s the first time in Supercars history that four Kiwis have finished in the top four spots.
It was a tense start. McLaughlin looked to have the lead organised, but copped slight contact from an energised Fabian Coulthard from behind and then got passed around the outside by van Gisbergen. This was how the top three remained for most of the opening stanza.
Chaz Mostert was fourth behind them, before becoming the first stopper on lap four (followed in by the likes of Heimgartner and Lee Holdsworth). McLaughlin and Rick Kelly stopped the following lap in reaction, and Coulthard did the same on lap six. Van Gisbergen and Cameron Waters did things very differently, electing to stay out much longer.
Mostert’s early stop saw him jump McLaughlin and Coulthard to be the early stop benchmark. Heimgartner and Coulthard in behind engaged in a physical combat for the spot behind McLaughlin, making significant contact on lap nine.
Van Gisbergen finally pitted on lap 14. With the field now cleansed, Mostert and McLaughlin got by van Gisbergen — but only just. The three were locked together fresh out of the lane, with McLaughlin being clocked in the right rear by van Gisbergen in turn four. The Red Bull ace got the move done a few corners later, leaving him to attack Mostert.
Under brakes at turn one the following lap, van Gisbergen scooped up the lead. But it was only the start of a wild lap. Mostert was immediately vulnerable to McLaughlin. It looked like McLaughlin would position himself for a dive at turn six, only for Heimgartner to arrive on them both with a full head of steam — making it three wide into turn six.
Heimgartner made the move stick to leap to second, all three drivers making brief contact in the melee. Mostert’s tyres from this point appeared to simply switch off, seeing him fade rapidly through the field. From here van Gisbergen was able to push on and grow his margin to claim victory by almost two seconds.
The question behind was whether the fresher tyres of McLaughlin and the much fresher tyres of Waters, now fourth, could seem them get by Heimgartner in second. Even though the Ned Whisky Mustang driver stopped on the same lap as Mostert, his tyres appeared to have fared much better.
Waters was monstering both drivers for a period, only to fade from McLaughlin’s tail. Heimgartner, despite stopping early on, was able to hold on to finish second over McLaughlin by seven tenths of a second. In the end, Waters actually became vulnerable from behind — losing fourth to Coulthard and then dropping behind de Pasquale, Kelly, and David Reynolds.
Waters ended up finishing eighth, with Nick Percat and Jack Le Brocq completing the top 10. Beyond the leaders, one of the other big stories was Jamie Whincup’s race. Starting deep in the field, McLaughlin’s leading championship challenger lost positions after a shocking pit-stop caused by an air spike that failed to function. He ended up finishing 18th.
|Shane van Gisbergen
|Anton De Pasquale
|Jack Le Brocq