Mostert: Beating van Gisbergen made it special

Chaz Mostert leads the field. Picture: Ross Gibb

Chaz Mostert knew he was the driver to beat when newly-crowned Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen roughed him up in the middle of the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000. Once he saw his arch-rival was under pressure, Mostert said he gained the confidence he needed to complete his and Lee Holdsworth’s dominant victory for Walkinshaw Andretti United.

“I don’t know what stint it was, but he was ahead of me and tried to play silly buggers,” Mostert explained after the race. “He blocked me and the cars behind me got into the back of me and it could have ended pretty badly at that point.”

Even though he dominated qualifying with his record-breaking Top 10 Shootout lap and was quick throughout the weekend, van Gisbergen’s robust driving confirmed to Mostert that he was in the box seat.

“When he was doing that, for me that was confidence building even though I lost a few positions,” Mostert explained. “Because for him to do that he knew we had a fast car and if we got anywhere around him he knew he was going to have to work really hard to beat us today. So even though I was a little bit annoyed at him at that point, I drew confidence from the situation.”

Despite multiple late-race restarts, Mostert was able to rebuild a lead on van Gisbergen each time and looked headed for the win even before his Red Bull Ampol Racing rival hit tyre trouble and dropped out of contention.

It capped a remarkable week for Mostert, with the 29-year-old winning the 2021 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia title on Wednesday, topping the shootout on Saturday and winning the Peter Brock Trophy on Sunday.

“I’ve probably had one of the best motorsport weeks of my life,” he said. “Obviously I wrapped up the TCR title at the start of the week, I haven’t won a title in over 10 years. Then obviously to get in the Top 10 Shootout and get the pole, that car was so fun to drive, and get the lap record – two massive achievements.

“You think you’re pretty lucky to get two achievements so you think a third one’s not going to happen, so you’re fighting that mentally all day. At the end of the day to win Brocky’s trophy it’s overwhelming. Three big achievements this week is just awesome.

“It’s been such an enjoyable week. I’ve probably been more relaxed than I’ve ever been because the car has been doing what we want it to do. So I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this week.”

While he was relaxed much of the week, the pressure of being the clear favourites appeared to show at times in the race, with both Mostert and Holdsworth looking nervous when watching from the pits. But Mostert was adamant that he was keeping his emotions in-check.

“Me and Lee are similar in a way, we just said ‘whatever happens, happens,’” he explained. “We just put our best foot forward. You know there’s a lot of things out of your control. We knew we had a fast car, we just had to go and do our job and so did the whole crew.”

In the end, such was the dominance that Mostert was able to slow his pace in the final laps to soak in the experience of winning the Bathurst 1000; having won in 2014 by taking the lead on the final lap.

“To finish there with a few seconds breathing room so you could enjoy those last couple of laps… was a real credit to the car speed we had,” said the now two-time Bathurst 1000 winner.

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