De Pasquale reflects on Bathurst 1000 disappointment

In his final exclusive The Distiller column of the year, presented by Dasher + Fisher, Anton De Pasquale opens up on his Repco Bathurst 1000 campaign and looks back on his first season as a whole at the Shell V-Power Racing Team.

Well, I’m back in Melbourne now after the biggest race of the year.

It was a fairly unique visit to The Mountain, being there so early prepping the cars and getting organised as we couldn’t go back to the workshop in Queensland after Sydney Motorsport Park.

And what a cool week of motorsport it was, with all the different categories out on track.

Unfortunately for us, the 1000 didn’t go to plan as we had to stop the car with about 20 laps to go because of a driveline issue.

We didn’t roll out of the truck the absolute best on Thursday but I think our position on the timesheets was usually worse than it should have been because we just kept not quite stringing a lap together whenever we put tyres on.

No one could really match the pace of the #25 car, but I think we had a top five car probably all along, and it was nice to get a front row start.

The Top 10 Shootout at Bathurst is the best session we do all year and I’ve been lucky enough to make it every time I’ve been there.

When some of the guys before us started laying down mid-threes, you know you’re going to have to do something pretty special to be up there, because that’s seriously quick.

Anton De Pasquale aboard the #11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang

I was pretty happy with my lap. We took a bit to get going but once I got to the top of the hill it was pretty good, we just really got smoked in the first sector by Chaz so had to settle for second.

Still, it’s an awesome way to head into the biggest day of the season, with all eyes on you, lots of pressure, and just having The Mountain all to yourself to push 100 percent.

For the race, it was the first time I’d ever not started in the car, so that was a strange experience but Tony did a great job and nailed the start.

Even though Lee and Garth eventually got by, we were in an awesome position for the rest of the day.

It was looking like we were on for a potential podium, worst case maybe top five… and then it all unravelled.

When the Safety Car started coming out a whole heap of times, we lost of lot of track position and ended up having to try to do something a bit different with strategy.

As it turned out, it didn’t really matter as we ended up not making it to the end, which was pretty disappointing.

We’ve had a few DNFs this year so we’re just going to have to keep working hard on it for next year because obviously we want to go to the next level in 2022.

But all in all, it was a pretty good year: 11 poles, six wins and a ton of podiums. I don’t think we can be disappointed, there’s plenty to build on.

De Pasquale with the 2021 pole position award trophy

Now, the crew are waiting to get back home and I’ve taken the opportunity to go back down to Melbourne to spend Christmas with my family.

Once the new year starts we’ll get stuck back into it and gear up for Newcastle, which will be the first street circuit we’ve done other than Townsville for ages.

It was also exciting to see what the future holds with Gen3.

To be the first to drive the new Mustang around Bathurst on the Friday was unreal, even if we were taking it pretty easy.

The guys have done an awesome job putting it all together and the cars are only going to get better throughout the next year.

The Mustang looks good, sounds good and should be a really good race car.

Anyway, thanks everyone for your support all year, I’m super happy to be with the Shell V-Power Racing Team and I can’t wait to see what we can do in 2022.

Anton

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