De Pasquale column: An unforgettable weekend

Anton De Pasquale broke through for his maiden Supercars pole position(s) and his first championship race win for Ford in a stellar visit to The Bend Motorsport Park. The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver takes a look back at the weekend that was in his exclusive The Distiller column, presented Dasher + Fisher.

Well, that was a weekend I’ll never forget.

Winning at Darwin last year was great but this time was totally different. And better.

Darwin was during the mixed tyre days when everyone was on varied strategies… Sunday at The Bend was a genuine victory and no one can take that away from us.

Not only that, it was my first win for the Shell V-Power Racing Team and Ford’s 400th in category history. Pretty cool.

Obviously at a track like The Bend, starting at the front is huge.

After a wet Saturday and basically no dry running heading into Sunday, it was impossible to know what sort of lap time would get the job done in qualifying.

It’s super fun to go flat out around The Bend, like with the triple right-hander, you’ve got to push the risk versus reward factor.

I didn’t know if we’d done enough, so it was bloody cool to learn we’d scored pole position – my first in Supercars, after being close many times before.

I guess the saying goes, when it rains it pours. The second pole of my career came a matter of minutes after my first one.

It was especially awesome to have Davo beside me for that first Sunday race. To get a front-row lockout for the team with two new drivers is nice reward for all the hard work the crew has put in and the faith Ryan and Dick have put in us drivers.

To then convert that into a one-two was a big achievement.

Track position is king at The Bend and I managed to just stay ahead of Davo on the opening lap, which let us control the race from there onwards.

We saw some tyre dramas last year there, so SVG didn’t make life easy for us with his strategy to attack late with fresher tyres but thankfully Davo did a really good job to keep him at bay.

I have to say, it was a shame to not be able to jump on the top step of the podium with the champagne and all to celebrate the win kind of properly.

But we did have another race to go, and things were shaping up pretty well to make it a perfect day.

De Pasquale takes the chequered flag in Race 10

The track conditions were a bit cooler, so a bit more like qualifying, and we made some changes to the car that made it even faster.

Unfortunately about halfway through the first lap I knew something wasn’t quite right with the engine.

I could kind of drive around it… but when there’s a little problem it does quite often turn into a big problem.

We’re not exactly sure what happened but it definitely hurt to have to bring the car into the lane and park it.

Things had been going so well, so yeah, that hurt.

Obviously there was no guarantee we would have won, but two poles and two wins would have been amazing, but hey, we’ll still take two poles, a win and a podium in really tricky conditions on the Saturday.

I would have loved for Dick to be there, but it was great to have Ryan trackside for the first time this year. He was happy and the whole atmosphere around the team was awesome.

Outside of the on-track stuff, there’s a bit going on in the background with Gen3.

You do take an interest because it’s the future of the sport you love, but in the end there are plenty of smart people from our team and in Supercars to look after that stuff, and me and Will just put our focus into racing.

Speaking of which, next up is Winton at the end of the month.

The team has won the last three races there so we’ll do our best to keep that up.

And of course, that same weekend Scotty will be competing in the Indy 500, so we’ll be cheering him on from afar too.

Thanks for reading, until next time.

Anton

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