Chaz Mostert avoids chaos to win Adelaide opener
Chaz Mostert kicked off Holden’s Supercars swansong in perfect fashion by leading a Walkinshaw Andretti United one-two in the penultimate race of the year in Adelaide.
Three safety car periods ensured the 78-lap race had plenty of drama with pit strategy also coming into play.
Mostert assumed the lead during the second intervention and had enough fuel to make it to the end, while long-time leader Cameron Waters’s hopes faded after contact late on.
Champion-elect Shane van Gisbergen endured a difficult race and retired after hitting the barrier twice in a race where he started from the back of the grid after an error in qualifying.
After grabbing pole position in the top 10 shootout, Waters fended off the attentions of the fast-starting Team 18 car of Scott Pye, who qualified a superb second, on the run towards turn one.
Behind, Shell V Power Racing’s Anton De Pasquale retained third ahead of the second Tickford Mustang of James Courtney, while pre-shootout pacesetter Chaz Mostert initially move up to sixth ahead of Golding.
Mostert dropped back behind Golding on the second lap, but Golding’s race didn’t last though as the PremiAir Holden Commodore hit the wall at turn nine, damaging the power steering and forcing him into retirement.
From the back, Red Bull Ampol Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen charged through the field, gaining eight places in two laps and a further two places by lap seven to be just 12 seconds off the lead.
De Pasquale was the first of the leading runners to make his first compulsory pit-stop, on the 18th lap of 78 but an overshoot on his box meant the team was unable to put as much fuel into the Mustang as they wanted to.
Conversely, Pye pitted seven laps later and took on more fuel than leader Waters, who came in on lap 27.
That left Van Gisbergen temporarily in the lead, but with pace despite an apparent issue with the front anti-roll bar. The Red Bull Holden took on substantially more fuel than those in front and eventually ended the opening stint 11th.
The newly resurfaced Adelaide circuit – hosting a Supercars event for the first time since 2020 – through grip levels into the air, and nearly caught out Waters who understeered into the wall at turn 13.
The Ford escaped without damage and just about held onto the net lead as Pye equally slid wide at turn 15, briefly touching the grass.
As the field settled into the start of the second stint, the safety car was deployed on lap 39 after Truck Assist Racing’s Jack Le Brocq went straight on at turn 13.
That brought almost everyone into the pits for the second time, with the exception of PremiAir’s Chris Pither and Penrite Racing’s Lee Holdsworth – contesting his last full-time Supercars weekend – at the head of the field.
Two more safety car interventions in quick succession then turned the race on its head and gave Mostert the upper hand heading into the final 25 laps.
Van Gisbergen had been looking strong at the first restart but dropped to 20th after a botched attempt to drive around the outside of Mostert at turn five, sending him briefly into the tyre barriers. Van Gisbergen then caused the second safety car period after uncharacteristically sliding into the fence at turn 13.
He eventually retired after sustaining significant damage to the front right end corner of his Holden.
Keen to get their minimum fuel intake for the final stages, Waters and Pye both pitted, with Waters short-fuelled to gain track position ahead of the restart.
Waters then undid all his hard work with two errors: the first was running deep at turn three after trying to pass Macaulay Jones, which was compounded at turn four by collecting Todd Hazelwood, sending the latter into the wall. Hazelwood was then hit by Erebus Racing’s Will Brown. Waters also received a drivethrough penalty for his contact.
That left a 22-lap sprint to the finish, with Mostert leading the similarly fuelled sister WAU car of Nick Percat and James Courtney third in the best-placed Tickford Ford.
Pye was then taken out of victory contention after being hit at the hairpin by Bryce Fullwood. Pye lost power steering in the incident, forcing him out.
Out front, Mostert was largely untroubled as he opened up a margin of just over three seconds from team-mate Percat, who fended off the attack of Courtney to secure second at the flag.
Brodie Kostecki was an impressive fourth ahead of Tim Slade’s CollDrive Auto Parts Mustang, while Team 18’s Mark Winterbottom finished sixth after starting 21st.
Seventh was Will Davison while Broc Feeney in the Red Bull Ampol Holden was eighth ahead of a cramping Heimgartner with Holdsworth 10th.
Race two is scheduled to take place tomorrow at 05:15 CET (14:45 local time).