Shane van Gisbergen maximises Bathurst weekend with Sunday race win
A clean sweep of the opening round for the Supercars Championship has seen Shane van Gisbergen leave the weekend with 300 points in the bank, the Triple Eight man backing up his race win on Saturday with pole and a win on Sunday.
Coming in to the round off the back of winning last year’s season-closing Bathurst 1000, van Gisbergen was nearly untouchable in the second race of the round, putting in the fastest lap of the race en route to his third successive victory at Mount Panorama.
At the race start it was the Tickford Racing car of Cam Waters that got the best jump off the line, beating van Gisbergen into Hell Corner to lead the opening stanza of the race as they were chased by the Dick Johnson Racing cars of Anton de Pasquale and Will Davison.
Davison had to deal with heat from behind with yesterday’s runner-up Chaz Mostert putting pressure on the veteran, eventually getting the Walkinshaw Andretti United car past and setting off in pursuit of de Pasquale in front.
The first pit stops for Mostert and de Pasquale were split by a lap, ending up in favour of the former after a lap-long battle with the DJR car struggling on cold tyres which resulted in a small mistake under brakes into The Chase, pushing de Pasquale’s #100 wide as Mostert had his eyes forward to Waters.
van Gisbergen was able to take the race lead after the first round of pit stops after the Tickford Racing crew failed to block the undercut on Waters, leaving the lane in front of the #97 car but fresher tyres for van Gisbergen meant he sailed past the #6 in to Griffin’s Bend.
From there it was again van Gisbergen’s race to control, dictating the pace and setting the fastest laps of the 250km outing before the final round of pit stops where he again came out with a comfortable gap to Waters thanks to a shorter fill being needed.
The DJR entries of de Pasquale and Davison found themselves split by Mark Winterbottom who had worked his way into the top five thanks to a different strategy from the Team 18 crew, the 2015 series champion starting to put pressure on the car in front while getting a gap to former team-mate Davison behind.
Davison ended up losing his sixth placing with ten laps to go as he made a mistake running wide at Murray’s Corner, leaving the door open for Jamie Whincup to squeeze his Triple Eight car past his close mate, taking the spot in the process.
In the run to the finish, no one could come near van Gisbergen who easily held off Waters in a copybook finish of last year’s Bathurst 1000 in terms of the finishing order while Mostert had to make do with third, keeping himself second in the championship standings thanks to a double-podium round.
de Pasquale took home a fourth place in his first race finish for DJR after crashing out yesterday, maintaining an easy gap to Winterbottom who was unpressured by Whincup. Davison was unable to get back the spot he lost, instead settling for seventh and getting home of Team 18’s Scott Pye, Andre Heimgartner for Kelly Grove Racing and Brad Jones Racing’s Nick Percat who completed the top ten.
Thanks to his two wins on the opening weekend, van Gisbergen retains the championship elad going in to the next round, set to be held from March 19-21 at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway in a return for Supercars to the Victorian state after no races were completed there in 2020.