DJR not convinced van Gisbergen undercut was decisive

Anton De Pasquale

The Shell V-Power Racing Team does not believe Shane van Gisbergen’s undercut was necessarily decisive in his victory over Anton De Pasquale at the NTI Townsville 500.

De Pasquale came up just shy of running down the Repco Supercars Championship leader at the end of Race 20, even if the official margin was 4.4989s after a remarkable resolution to the final-corner clash between them.

Notwithstanding that Thomas Randle led the bulk of the first stint by being the only driver to start on his set of super soft tyres, the battle for the win was essentially a two-horse race between Cars #11 and #97.

Those two were running second and third respectively when van Gisbergen made his first pit stop from about one second in arrears on Lap 28, taking an estimated 68 litres of fuel.

De Pasquale was into the lane a lap later and despite his fill being around 66 litres, he could not hold the #97 Red Bull Ampol Racing entry off when they arrived at Turn 3 on his out lap.

Making matters worse, Randle briefly split them after he took service on Lap 30.

With the benefit of the undercut fully exploited, van Gisbergen cleared out to a 4.5s advantage by the time they both pitted again on Lap 61, and he led by five seconds once the stops were done due to the fuel discrepancy, which proved just enough to win the race.

De Pasquale, however, is not convinced that ceding track position to his key rival necessarily changed the final outcome, despite reportedly venting his frustration over the radio at the time.

“I don’t have an answer to that,” he said when asked by if it cost him the win.

“I think if we kept track position, we might have had a chance, or definitely a better chance, because it is quite difficult to get close and pass and things like that.

“For most of the race, we were very similar speed – I think I was a bit quicker on the [super] soft and he was a little bit quicker on the hard – so, whether I could have kept that track position, I don’t know, but definitely would have had a better chance.”

Dick Johnson Racing team principal Ben Croke told it was, “Not so much a strategy error.

“We tried to do something different [in Race 19] and it didn’t quite work out.

“We were sort of looking towards the end of the race and seeing where we’d end up.”

Van Gisbergen had a different take.

Asked by if he thought that gain of track position was decisive, he simply said, “Yep, hundred percent.”

By holding off De Pasquale, van Gisbergen added another 12 points to the margin between then at the top of the championship, which now stands at 274.

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