Van Gisbergen wins under Safety Car in Townsville chaos

Shane van Gisbergen wins under Safety Car

Shane van Gisbergen has won Race 18 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship under Safety Car after rain caused chaos on the streets of Townsville.

The #97 Red Bull HRT ZB Commodore led the #333 Shell V-Power Mustang of Fabian Coulthard and the #6 Monster Energy Mustang of Cameron Waters across the finish line.

Anton De Pasquale (#99 Penrite ZB Commodore) took fourth after leading for almost half the race having been one of the first onto wet tyres while championship leader Scott McLaughlin (#17 DJR Team Penske Mustang) came back from a lap down to finish 11th after copping a puncture in a second-corner clash with David Reynolds.

Jamie Whincup failed to finish due to a crash, while there were fires in two cars and the Brad Jones Racing pit bay near the end of the race which lasted 64 of the scheduled 70 laps.

With the track wet and all cars on slicks, the first two rows walked their cars away well at the start as Armor All Pole-sitter Waters led McLaughlin, Reynolds, and Todd Hazelwood.

Reynolds rode up on McLaughlin’s right-rear corner as they braked for Turn 2, breaking the left-front steering arm on the former’s #9 Erebus ZB Commodore, with race control soon advising that no further action would be taken.

Waters was 2.8s up on second placed Hazelwood at the end of the standing lap but the Matt Stone Racing driver would quickly fall down the order.

Coulthard passed Hazelwood (#35 ZB Commodore) on Lap 2 but continued to lose time to Waters, with the lead peaking at well over five seconds, while McLaughlin circulated at the back having taken new slicks.

After 10 laps, Waters led Coulthard, Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto Mustang), van Gisbergen, Whincup, and Hazelwood, while De Pasquale was 12th.

Whincup appeared as though he might have been getting held up by van Gisbergen when he pitted at the end of Lap 16, taking another set of slicks, while Coulthard had reeled Waters in and jumped him when they both pitted on Lap 18.

On the next lap, Whincup lost the rear of the #88 Triple Eight ZB Commodore at Turn 6 and clouted the inside wall, drawing a Safety Car when he stopped on-track due to low oil pressure.

The Safety Car ensured the completion of the first pit stop cycle, and Coulthard led Waters, van Gisbergen, Mostert, Nick Percat (#8 Elite Roads ZB Commodore), and Lee Holdsworth (#5 The Bottle-O Mustang), while De Pasquale was 16th having gone onto wets and McLaughlin second on-track but a lap down due to sinking almost 100 litres of fuel.

The race restarted on Lap 26 and van Gisbergen was passed by Mostert and Percat as they crossed Boundary Street, then by Holdsworth at Turn 11.

With rain getting heavy, van Gisbergen went to wets on Lap 29, while Waters passed Coulthard for the lead on Lap 30 before they both pitted, along with Percat, at the end of the lap.

After the front-runners had pitted for wets, De Pasquale had assumed a lead of about 35 seconds from Waters and van Gisbergen, who had passed Coulthard on Lap 32.

Coulthard was fourth from Mostert, and Percat, with about half the race to go.

Of those aforementioned six, the 120-litre fuel requirement had been met by Waters, van Gisbergen, and Coulthard only.

De Pasquale’s lead dropped under 20 seconds when he made errors and ran long at Turn 2 and then at Turn 11 in quick succession, while Waters fell from second to fourth when he threw his car up the road at Turn 2 on Lap 36.

Mostert was on something of a march but still had to pit again, and he was running second to De Pasquale by about four seconds, and ahead of third placed van Gisbergen by about six seconds, when he pitted at the end of Lap 60.

The Safety Car was called on Lap 61 when Garry Jacobson parked the #3 Rabble.Club Altima at Turn 10, prompting De Pasquale to pit.

Car #99 initially slotted into the train in fifth position, behind van Gisbergen, Coulthard, Waters, and Mostert, before Race Control advised that De Pasquale and Mostert should swap positions due to their position when De Pasquale exited pit lane.

Percat, who had been on for a strong result before he punted Waters at Turn 3 on Lap 54, was in the lane when his fuel hose broke.

He carried a fire to pit exit before parking as rival crews helped put out that blaze, while another broke out in the fuel spilt in the BJR pit bay.

Meanwhile, replays revealed that Jacobson’s Altima had also been on fire when he pulled over to cause the Safety Car.

Time-certainty meant that the race would finish under Safety Car, and so it would be that van Gisbergen’s move on Coulthard on Lap 32 would prove to be the race winning pass.

“It’s been a tough, tough year for us and we’re getting better, but that one wasn’t me for sure, that was Shippy (engineer Grant McPherson) and the boys there,” said van Gisbergen.

“I was really struggling to keep my head when we didn’t have the grip and they kept it under control and kept me focused to the end. That’s a real team victory.”

Waters ended up on the podium despite being pushed up the runoff area by Percat, and Mostert made it two Tickford entries in the top five.

Rick Kelly was sixth in the #100 Castrol Altima, from James Golding (#34 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore), Holdsworth, Michael Caruso (#33 Garry Rogers Motorsport ZB Commodore), and Simona De Silvestro (#78 Harvey Norman Altima).

Reynolds did get classified as a finisher in 20th, four laps down.

McLaughlin’s championship lead is down to 292 points over team-mate Coulthard, while van Gisbergen has moved up to third at 207 points further back.

The next event is the Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint at Queensland Raceway on July 26-28.

Results: Race 18, Watpac Townsville 400 Updated

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Laps Race time
1 97 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 64 1:37:33.2943
2 333 Shell V-Power Racing Team Fabian Coulthard Ford Mustang GT 64 1:37:34.0784
3 6 Monster Energy Racing Team Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 64 1:37:34.7384
4 99 Penrite Racing Anton De Pasquale Holden Commodore ZB 64 1:37:35.3391
5 55 Supercheap Auto Racing Chaz Mostert Ford Mustang GT 64 1:37:36.1045
6 100 Castrol Racing Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 64 1:37:37.5623
7 34 Boost Mobile Racing James Golding Holden Commodore ZB 64 1:37:37.9763
8 5 The Bottle-O Racing Team Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT 64 1:37:38.6355
9 33 Boost Mobile Racing Michael Caruso Holden Commodore ZB 64 1:37:40.5281
10 78 Team Harvey Norman Simona De Silvestro Nissan Altima 64 1:37:42.7599
11 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Scott McLaughlin Ford Mustang GT 64 1:37:43.5359
12 14 Freightliner Racing Tim Slade Holden Commodore ZB 64 1:37:57.5545
13 22 Mobil 1 MEGA Racing James Courtney Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:37:36.7124
14 19 Truck Assist TEKNO Racing Jack Le Brocq Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:37:40.3534
15 2 Mobil 1 MEGA Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:37:44.7925
16 35 Unit Racing Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:37:47.1332
17 21 Team CoolDrive Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:37:49.9174
18 7 Plus Fitness Racing Andre Heimgartner Nissan Altima 63 1:37:56.7466
19 8 Elite Roads Racing Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 63 1:38:08.6979
20 9 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Holden Commodore ZB 60 1:37:46.0743
21 23 Milwaukee Racing Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 51 1:37:49.3180
DNF 3 Racing Garry Jacobson Nissan Altima 59 1:28:18.0750
DNF 18 Irwin Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 47 1:37:51.3585
DNF 88 Red Bull Holden Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 18 24:21.7870

Championship points Updated

Pos Driver Pts
1 Scott McLaughlin 2168
2 Fabian Coulthard 1876
3 Shane van Gisbergen 1669
4 Chaz Mostert 1640
5 David Reynolds 1634
6 Jamie Whincup 1528
7 Cameron Waters 1396
8 Nick Percat 1321
9 Will Davison 1274
10 Lee Holdsworth 1224
11 Anton De Pasquale 1200
12 Tim Slade 1149
13 James Courtney 1123
14 Mark Winterbottom 1093
15 Andre Heimgartner 1067
16 Scott Pye 976
17 Todd Hazelwood 940
18 Rick Kelly 927
19 James Golding 875
20 Simona De Silvestro 838
21 Macauley Jones 678
22 Jack Le Brocq 667
23 Garry Jacobson 623
24 Richie Stanaway 482
25 Jack Smith 219
26 Chris Pither 159
27 Michael Caruso 123
28 Tim Blanchard 93

Join the discussion below in the comments section

Please note: reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]