Mostert hangs on for Darwin win as SVG comes unstuck

Chaz Mostert won Race 18. Picture: Ross Gibb

Chaz Mostert has made Walkinshaw Andretti United’s recent struggles a distant memory, producing a brilliant drive to win Race 18 at the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown.

All eyes were on the Shell V-Power Racing Team which had locked out the front row via Will Davison and Anton De Pasquale, but WAU caught its rivals napping.

Mostert started the race sixth and was one of the first to make his compulsory pit stop, taking only two tyres on Lap 9.

The two-time Bathurst 1000 winner made the most of clear air to rattle off a series of quick laps as the top four on the road all ran long.

De Pasquale had led the way after a blistering start to smoke pole-sitter Davison off the line, with the latter right on the #11’s tail from there.

De Pasquale was first of the front-runners to pit on Lap 19, before Cameron Waters pitted from fourth on Lap 21, Shane van Gisbergen from third on Lap 22, and finally Davison the next time around.

All of that quartet took either three or four tyres at their stop and looked destined to reel in Mostert, especially after the field was bunched by a Lap 26 Safety Car.

That intervention was triggered by a collision between Garry Jacobson and Zak Best which left the Tickford Racing wildcard damaged in the run-off at Turn 6. Jacobson was slapped with a drive-through penalty for the incident.

The race resumed on Lap 31 of 38, and there was instant drama as van Gisbergen and Davison came together at Turn 1.

Davison dropped a handful of places but the incident was far more costly for van Gisbergen, whose damaged Red Bull Ampol Racing #97 slipped down the order. A 15-second penalty compounded his woes, leaving him to finish 21st.

All the while, De Pasquale was hunting Mostert without ever quite drawing close enough to launch a move.

Mostert would defy his tyre deficit to continue to perfectly position his #25 Mobil 1 Optus Racing ZB Commodore, and he would go on to win by 0.9580s.

De Pasquale was second ahead of Race 17 winner Waters, Davison, Andre Heimgartner and a fading Broc Feeney in sixth.

For Mostert, it’s a special result after WAU endured a dreadful run at Perth and went podium-less at Winton.

He’d further been disqualified twice this weekend, from Practice 2, and controversially losing his fourth place in the Saturday race.

“There’s no worse mentality than going into a Safety Car knowing that everyone has got fresher tyres behind you. Not just two, but four,” Mostert said.

“Ripper effort by the team, we went super aggressive and the Mobil 1 Optus rocket somehow just held on. Obviously temperature plays a big part, I kept Anton just at bay enough but I had nothing left.”

Just 26 cars took to the start with Team 18 unable to complete repairs on Scott Pye’s #20 Nulon Racing entry in time for the 15:25 kick-off (local time), having been caught up in the early Race 17 skirmish.

Another bruising opening stanza left several more drivers out of the running, with Brodie Kostecki and Jayden Ojeda tangling at Turn 1 on the second lap.

Kostecki limped back to the pits with a puncture while Ojeda was left to retire from the last of his six wildcard starts due to broken suspension.

Todd Hazelwood also dropped off the lead lap, a vibration forcing him to visit the lane before the compulsory pit stop window opened, while the rebuilt #5 Tickford Racing Mustang of James Courtney was left worse for wear after being caught up in a concertina.

Courtney would come home 19th after making an additional pit stop during the Safety Car period.

It was better news for his Tickford Racing team-mate Jake Kostecki, who finished eighth, sandwiched between the Holdens of Will Brown and Mark Winterbottom, while Nick Percat rounded out the top 10.

Van Gisbergen’s troublesome race means his championship lead has been slashed to 214 points over De Pasquale.

Meanwhile, the Shell V-Power Racing Team has roared into the lead of the teams’ championship, 14 points clear of Red Bull Ampol Racing.

Next up is the NTI Townsville 500, which will be held across July 8-10.

Results: Race 18, Merlin Darwin Triple Crown

Pos Num Team/Sponsor Driver Car Gap
1 25 Mobil 1 Optus Racing Chaz Mostert Holden ZB Commodore
2 11 Shell V-Power Racing Team Anton De Pasquale Ford Mustang GT +0.9580
3 6 Monster Energy Racing Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT +1.1035
4 17 Shell V-Power Racing Team Will Davison Ford Mustang GT +1.4933
5 8 R&J Batteries Racing Andre Heimgartner Holden ZB Commodore +3.3056
6 88 Red Bull Ampol Racing Broc Feeney Holden ZB Commodore +3.3158
7 9 Boost Mobile Racing by Erebus Will Brown Holden ZB Commodore +8.8692
8 56 Tradie Racing Jake Kostecki Ford Mustang GT +9.0464
9 18 Irwin Racing Mark Winterbottom Holden ZB Commodore +9.2514
10 2 Mobil 1 NTI Racing Nick Percat Holden ZB Commodore +9.3879
11 3 CoolDrive Racing Tim Slade Ford Mustang GT +9.6175
12 26 Penrite Racing David Reynolds Ford Mustang GT +11.3049
13 34 Truck Assist Racing Jack Le Brocq Holden ZB Commodore +11.4972
14 14 Middy’s Electrical Racing Bryce Fullwood Holden ZB Commodore +11.6735
15 55 Castrol Racing Thomas Randle Ford Mustang GT +12.1206
16 10 Penrite Racing Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT +12.6078
17 4 SCT Logistics Racing Jack Smith Holden ZB Commodore +15.7478
18 96 Kubota Racing Macauley Jones Holden ZB Commodore +15.9186
19 5 Snowy River Caravans James Courtney Ford Mustang GT +16.6211
20 22 Coca-Cola No Sugar Racing Chris Pither Holden ZB Commodore +19.0477
21 97 Red Bull Ampol Racing Shane van Gisbergen Holden ZB Commodore +25.0360
22 76 Subway Racing Garry Jacobson Holden ZB Commodore +43.0405
23 35 Truck Assist Racing Todd Hazelwood Holden ZB Commodore +1 lap
24 99 Boost Mobile Racing by Erebus Brodie Kostecki Holden ZB Commodore +1 lap
DNF 27 East Coast Lubes Jayden Ojeda Holden ZB Commodore
DNF 78 Opposite Lock Zak Best Ford Mustang GT
DNS 20 Nulon Racing Scott Pye Holden ZB Commodore

Fastest lap (bonus): Will Davison, 1:07.0532, Lap 25

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Shane van Gisbergen 1581
2 Anton De Pasquale 1367
3 Cameron Waters 1293
4 Will Davison 1287
5 David Reynolds 1111
6 Chaz Mostert 1107
7 Broc Feeney 1059
8 Brodie Kostecki 977
9 Andre Heimgartner 954
10 Tim Slade 903
11 Mark Winterbottom 887
12 Lee Holdsworth 876
13 James Courtney 852
14 Todd Hazelwood 796
15 Nick Percat 789
16 William Brown 784
17 Macauley Jones 627
18 Jack Le Brocq 624
19 Scott Pye 589
20 Bryce Fullwood 580
21 Jake Kostecki 575
22 Thomas Randle 562
23 Chris Pither 526
24 Garry Jacobson 513
25 Jack Smith 502
26 Jayden Ojeda 150
27 Jordan Boys 62
28 Zak Best 56

Teams’ championship

Pos Car(s) Team Pts
1 11 17 Dick Johnson Racing 2654
2 88 97 Triple Eight Race Engineering 2640
3 5 6 Tickford Racing 2145
4 10 26 Grove Racing 1987
5 2 25 Walkinshaw Andretti United 1866
6 9 99 Erebus Motorsport 1761
7 8 14 Brad Jones Racing 1534
8 18 20 Team 18 1476
9 34 35 Matt Stone Racing 1420
10 55 56 Tickford Racing 1137
11 4 96 Brad Jones Racing 1129
12 22 76 PremiAir Racing 1039
13 3 Blanchard Racing Team 903
14 27 Walkinshaw Andretti United 150
15 49 Image Racing 62
16 78 Tickford Racing 56

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