Van Gisbergen draws first blood after Waters misfortune

Shane van Gisbergen

Shane van Gisbergen has won Supercars Championship Race 1 at the Repco Mount Panorama 500 as early leader Cameron Waters was hit with a power steering problem.

Van Gisbergen inherited the lead under the early Safety Car which was necessitated when Anton De Pasquale crashed out of third position in his first race for Dick Johnson Racing.

From that point on, the #97 Red Bull Ampol ZB Commodore was not headed, save for the latter pit stop cycle, and the 2020 Bathurst 1000 winner opened his 2021 account with another victory.

Chaz Mostert finished second in the #25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online ZB Commodore having been quick on the run home, but already too far behind van Gisbergen.

Will Davison claimed third in the sole surviving Shell V-Power Mustang, ahead of Mark Winterbottom (#18 Irwin Tools ZB Commodore) and Bryce Fullwood (#2 Mobil 1 Middy’s ZB Commodore).

The latter profited strategically from the Safety Car which was called on Lap 7 after De Pasquale arrived wide of the race line at The Cutting and slid the #100 Shell V-Power Mustang into the wall.

Jamie Whincup, on the other hand, was hurt by the timing of that neutralisation given he had to stack behind team-mate van Gisbergen, and the #88 ZB Commodore ended up seventh at the chequered flag.

Tim Slade was on for fourth in the first race for the Blanchard Racing Team but got loose on the descent towards Forrest’s Elbow and smashed the CoolDrive Mustang less than five laps from home.

There was no further Safety Car running, however, and the threat of rain never materialised either, despite the 40-lap affair ending under grey skies.

It also started in similar weather, at which time Waters showed a clean pair of heels to drive the #6 Monster Energy Mustang into the lead from pole position.

Van Gisbergen was also good with the launch and went from the second row into second position, with DJR team-mates De Pasquale and Davison (#17 Mustang) third and fourth for the climb up Mountain Straight.

Slade took up fifth having made a tardy getaway from the outside of the front row and Mostert slotted into sixth.

Waters was just over a second clear at the end of the standing lap, although van Gisbergen would claw back a couple of tenths on the next 6.213km tour of Mount Panorama.

Mostert got Slade for fifth at Griffins on Lap 3 after the BRT pilot had tried to pass Davison up Mountain Straight, while the margin between first and second continued to fluctuate around 0.6s to 1.1s.

It was roughly the former just before a Safety Car was called on Lap 7 due to De Pasquale’s crash, and that prompted the 17 who had not yet pitted to do so.

Waters led the field into the lane but dropped to fifth after reportedly taking on 77 litres of fuel while the Tickford Racing crew looked under the bonnet of the #6 Mustang.

Van Gisbergen therefore inherited the lead from an early- and very short-stopping Fullwood, followed by Slade and Davison.

Worse still for Waters, he was into the garage before the Safety Car could return to pit lane with what was revealed to be a power steering problem.

That elevated David Reynolds (#26 Penrite Mustang) and Jack Le Brocq (#5 Truck Assist Mustang) to fifth and sixth after they had also pitted early, with Mostert seventh after his #25 ZB Commodore was given a drink of 78 litres compared to the van Gisbergen car’s 56 litres.

Whincup was seventh when the Safety Car was called but had to stack behind #97, after which he received 83 litres of fuel under yellow, leaving him 13th for the restart.

That occurred at the start of Lap 10 and Fullwood went with van Gisbergen initially, although there was more than a second between them at the end of Lap 12.

Meanwhile, Mostert had picked off Le Brocq and then Reynolds at Forrest’s Elbow on consecutive laps to sit fifth, but Whincup was having less joy in trying to find a way by Fabian Coulthard (#19 Local Legends ZB Commodore).

It took until Lap 17 for the Triple Eight Race Engineering driver to clear the Team Sydney entry, at Murray’s Corner, and move back to 12th spot.

Whincup’s team-mate van Gisbergen, on the other hand, was disappearing up the road from Fullwood and the rest.

The gap between #97 and #2 was a touch over five seconds when Fullwood made his second pit stop at the end of Lap 19, promoting Slade to second position.

Slade remained there until he took service again on Lap 24, at which time he had to take more fuel onboard than key rivals van Gisbergen, Davison, and Mostert would have to for their last stops.

Because of his longer initial stop, Mostert also looked forward to a dwell time of around six seconds less than van Gisbergen or Davison.

As such, the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver was effectively ahead of Davison even if he continued to tail Car #17 until the DJR pilot peeled off at the end of Lap 26.

Davison did get out ahead of Slade to take up an effective third, but predictably could not overhaul Mostert when Car #25 pitted with 10 laps to go.

Meanwhile, van Gisbergen had been in to knock off the remainder of his compulsory 120 litres at the end of Lap 28, before the order was cleansed three laps later when the final stops were completed.

For the run home, it was van Gisbergen with seven seconds on Mostert, then Davison, Slade, Fullwood, and Winterbottom, who had been only 11th under the Safety Car but gradually rose through the field.

Mostert had good tyres at his disposal and while he belted out fastest laps on Lap 32 and 33, van Gisbergen never looked threatened.

The margin between those two at the finish was 1.43s, with Davison almost another 17 seconds behind as he rounded out the podium.

“What an awesome day,” said van Gisbergen.

“Chaz was obviously faster at the end but I wasn’t really pushing.

“We’ve got a bit of speed to find, but what an awesome way to start and Red Bull Ampol Racing, great car and awesome day with [new engineer David] Cauchi learning how we’re working together.

“Yeah, awesome fun.”

Slade looked on for at least fourth until he got loose on Lap 36 and was bitten badly, with his spot inherited by Fullwood.

However, the youngster locked up and ran wide at Hell Corner on the penultimate lap, gifting his spot to Winterbottom.

The error meant that the 2013 Bathurst 1000 winner finished fourth but Fullwood still bagged a top five, with Le Brocq sixth.

Whincup emerged eighth after the second pit stop cycle and made up just the one position courtesy of Slade’s mishap.

James Courtney, who had to stack under Safety Car behind Waters, got the #44 Boost Mobile Mustang to the finish in eighth, from Reynolds and Todd Hazelwood (#14 Dunlop Super Dealer ZB Commodore).

Coulthard wound up 14th and Scott Pye (#20 De Walt ZB Commodore) two laps down in 19th after incurring steering damage in the opening lap cut and thrust.

Waters salvaged some points by being classified in 20th, having been sent back out after losing six laps.

Van Gisbergen’s championship lead is 12 points over Mostert with the first race of 2021 now in the books.

Qualifying for Race 2 starts tomorrow at 10:05 local time/AEDT.

Results: Race 1, Repco Mount Panorama 500

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Laps Race time
1 97 Red Bull Ampol Racing Team Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:30:57.4794
2 25 Mobil 1 Appliances Online Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:30:58.9067
3 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 40 1:31:15.6166
4 18 IRWIN Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:31:28.2169
5 2 Mobil 1 Middy’s Racing Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:31:29.2125
6 5 Truck Assist Racing Jack Le Brocq Ford Mustang GT 40 1:31:35.0863
7 88 Red Bull Ampol Racing Team Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:31:35.5727
8 44 Boost Mobile Racing James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 40 1:31:37.5897
9 26 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Ford Mustang GT 40 1:31:49.4115
10 14 Dunlop Super Dealer Racing Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:31:51.3278
11 99 Erebus Boost Mobile Racing Brodie Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:31:51.8553
12 35 Yellow Cover Racing Zane Goddard Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:32:00.3913
13 34 UNIT Racing Jake Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:32:06.3718
14 19 Local Legends Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:32:07.6519
15 7 NED Whisky Racing Andre Heimgartner Ford Mustang GT 40 1:32:23.2485
16 9 Erebus WD-40 Racing William Brown Holden Commodore ZB 40 1:32:38.6032
17 4 SCT Motor Sports Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB 39 1:31:05.5178
18 8 R&J Batteries Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 38 1:32:18.4316
19 20 DEWALT Racing Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB 38 1:32:58.6307
20 6 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 34 1:32:36.4096
NC 3 Cooldrive Racing Tim Slade Ford Mustang GT 35 1:20:35.7145
NC 22 Team SYDNEY Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB 31 1:13:19.1572
NC 96 Coca-Cola Racing Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB 24 58:05.1495
NC 100 Shell V-Power Racing Team Anton De Pasquale Ford Mustang GT 6 12:53.3815

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Shane van Gisbergen 150
2 Chaz Mostert 138
3 Will Davison 129
4 Mark Winterbottom 120
5 Bryce Fullwood 111
6 Jack Le Brocq 102
7 Jamie Whincup 96
8 James Courtney 90
9 David Reynolds 84
10 Todd Hazelwood 78
11 Brodie Kostecki 72
12 Zane Goddard 69
13 Jake Kostecki 66
14 Fabian Coulthard 63
15 Andre Heimgartner 60
16 William Brown 57
17 Jack Smith 54
18 Nick Percat 51
19 Scott Pye 48
20 Cameron Waters 45
21 Tim Slade 0
22 Garry Jacobson 0
23 Macauley Jones 0
24 Anton De Pasquale 0

Teams’ championship

Pos Car(s) Team Pts
1 2 25 Walkinshaw Andretti United 249
2 88 97 Triple Eight Race Engineering 246
3 18 20 Team 18 168
4 7 26 Kelly Grove Racing 144
5 34 35 Matt Stone Racing 135
6 6 44 Tickford Racing 135
7 8 14 Brad Jones Racing 129
8 9 99 Erebus Motorsport 129
9 17 100 Dick Johnson Racing 129
10 5 Tickford Racing 102
11 19 22 Team Sydney 63
12 4 96 Brad Jones Racing 54
13 3 Blanchard Racing Team 0

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