Van Gisbergen charges to Bathurst GT win
By Mat Coch
Saturday 3rd April, 2021 - 3:41pm
Shane van Gisbergen has battled his way to victory in the opening GT World Challenge Australia race of the weekend at Mount Panorama.
Having taken over from Prince Jefri Ibrahim, van Gisbergen shadowed Chaz Mostert before winning out in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Garth Tander for the lead.
Mostert ended the race third after a late penalty, having carved his way through the pack in the closing laps as the Supercars trio starred in the second half of the race.
The grid was decided by the first 20-minute qualifying session, which saw Yasser Shahin off pole from Brett Hobson.
From the start, Shahin led the field into the opening turn in an otherwise uneventful start to the 60-minute encounter, with Hobson slotting into second from Tony Bates and Brad Schumacher.
Hobson was soon challenging Shahin at the front of the race, the pair having pulled almost six seconds clear of the pack after two laps.
Behind Schumacher in third a train had developed, headed by Bates with Tony Quinn, Greg Taylor, Stephen Grove, Max Twigg, and Ibrahim all in tow.
Quinn was particularly menacing, harrying the rear of Bates as the Audi driver fell off the back of Schumacher’s Trophy-spec sister car ahead.
On Lap 4, Bates lost out under brakes at Griffins Bend, only to get back by Quinn after he ran deep and opened the door for his rival to reclaim the place.
A lap later, the move stuck and Bates was left to busy himself with Stephen Grove, who’d picked up a five-second time-penalty for being out of line at the race start.
Race leader Shahin was the first to take to the lane when the Compulsory Pit Stop window opened, handing the car over to Tander.
Bates, Grove, and Ibrahim were also in the pits after 10 laps, just shy of the halfway point of the race.
That left Hobson out front with a 14.43s advantage over Schumacher, who took service next lap.
In the pits, Mostert gained track position over van Gisbergen, the duo having taken over from Bates and Ibrahim respectively.
Quinn pitted the Aston Martin on Lap 12, the Am-class leader running third at the time.
Hobson stopped after 13 laps, holding a 26.9s advantage over Twigg in second and 1:51 back to Tander – the first of the runners to have served his CPS.
Twigg followed him into the lane, Tander taking over at the head of the race with Schumacher slotting in second from Mostert, van Gisbergen, and Hobson.
The second-placed Audi was quickly overhauled, falling victim to the two Supercars regulars at Forrest’s Elbow.
Mostert and van Gisbergen continued to run nose to tail in their battle for second, Tander having extended just over four seconds at the head of affairs, an advantage that was eroded by the chasing duo.
With 19-minute remaining, Mostert was slapped with a stop-go penalty for not serving the full stationary time.
It was a penalty which also his Nick Kelly, while Marc Cini received a two-second hold for his pit lane infringement.
Mostert served the penalty from second on Lap 18, re-joining the encounter sixth with 14-minutes to run behind Tander, van Gisbergen, Schumacher, and Hobson.
Promoted into second, van Gisbergen continued to reel in Tander, the pair locked together with 10-minutes remaining.
A late move from the Mercedes driver saw him make a move up the inside of the final corner with 20 laps in the books.
They ran side-by-side down the front straight, Tander able to switch back to the inside exiting Murray’s.
Around Hell Corner they remained door to door, drag racing up Mountain Straight before van Gisbergen finally claimed the position at Griffins Bend.
he duly checked out, extending more than a second advantage across the top of the mountain.
In the pack, Mostert was marching forward.
He caught and despatched Hobson before catching Schumacher just a handful of minutes left in the race..
The Bathurst 1000 winner who tried desperately to find a way through, only gaining the position at The Chase on the final lap.
Out front, van Gisbergen’s margin of victory was 5.6s over Tander, with Mostert 33.9s further back.
Schumacher was the leading Trophy class running home while Am class honours went to Tony Quinn, who was ninth at the flag.
A second 60-minute race is set to follow tomorrow, the grid for which was set by the second 20-minute qualifying session this morning.
That will see van Gisbergen on pole from Mostert, beginning at 08:50 AEST.