Wet paint contributed to remarkable Race 25 start

Shane van Gisbergen (foreground) and Anton De Pasquale (behind in frame) had to contend with the start/finish line at the beginning of Race 25. Picture: Fox Sports

Wet paint at the front of the Sydney Motorsport Park grid played a part in a remarkable start to Race 25 of the Repco Supercars Championship.

With rain falling, Bryce Fullwood jumped from eighth on the grid to take a clear lead into the first corner, where Jamie Whincup swept around the outside and into second position having started sixth.

Stewards would issue Fullwood a drive-through penalty for an early launch, although it was not quite as blatant as first appeared, and did not fully account for just how rapid a getaway it was.

Whincup, however, would go on to win a rain-shortened contest under the lights of Eastern Creek, where clear track was an even greater benefit than usual due to the spray.

His Red Bull Ampol Racing team manager, Mark Dutton, had high praise for the start, although he suspected that circumstances also played in #88’s favour.

That was because, unlike pole-sitting team-mate Shane van Gisbergen and fellow front row starter Anton De Pasquale, Whincup did not have to contend with a thick start line and ‘Sydney Motorsport Park’ branding immediately in front of his grid box.

“We haven’t looked at the data yet [to see how quick the start was] but the most important thing was that he didn’t jump the start,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com shortly after Race 25 at the Armor All Sydney SuperNight.

“It looked like the front two guys, just looking live, got an alright start but probably spun up on the paint of the start line, whereas the other cars further rows back have got more momentum by that stage and less acceleration and so were able to drive over the start line.

“We’ll have a look to see if that’s what actually happened, but, amazing start.”

Whincup himself backed up that take, and pointed out also that the cars in front of him left dry patches on the track, but was nevertheless pleased with his effort there, and at the first braking zone when he passed Fullwood for a lead that he would not relinquish.

“It’s much harder off the front row,” explained the seven-time champion.

“There’s lines and you’ve just got wet track the whole way, but once [the drivers starting in positions] four and two got going, there were actually some dry patches where the cars were sitting on the grid.

“So, you’re able to get in a few dry patches, get some momentum when you get to the slippery bit, so it was much easier from the back there.

“But, all in all, got a good start, went aggressive, had a bit of a lunge down into Turn 2, and that was a nice feeling, knowing that there was plenty of spray.

“We were in the dark [ie at night]; to be at the front of the pack was obviously the preferred position.”

De Pasquale could scarcely believe who had overtaken him, saying of Fullwood’s start, “I thought it looked a little bit too good to be true, because I’d just started moving and I was already passed by someone that was a few rows back.

“But, it’s always hard on the front row because you cross all that paint straight away, so me and Shane were pretty much lineball, wheelspinning next to each other.

“Jamie obviously got a ripper, so I’ll have a look at the footage and work out what he did next time.”

Whincup, meanwhile, had no thought on whether or not Fullwood had gone early.

“No, that doesn’t go through my mind,” he explained.

“I was just worrying about my own race, but then under the Safety Car, engineer said, ‘Bryce will be coming through the pit lane, so don’t fight him too hard off the restart.’”

Fullwood thought his start was “absolutely on”, while his Walkinshaw Andretti United team principal Bruce Stewart put it down to youthful enthusiasm, even if he too had hoped the call would go in the 23-year-old’s favour.

“Well, from my point of view, I had the blinkers on and thought it was an awesome start,” Stewart told Speedcafe.com.

“But, potentially youthful exuberance, and I can’t take that away from anyone, and he’ll learn from it.

“So, we look at next weekend and I’m, pretty sure it isn’t going to happen again.”

De Pasquale drove his Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang to second, his fourth podium in two events totalling six races so far at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Having had to serve his drive-through just after a Safety Car restart, with the field tightly bunched, Fullwood would ultimately be classified 22nd in the Mobil 1 Middy’s ZB Commodore.

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