Feeney holds off Kostecki to win Sandown 500
Sunday 17th September, 2023 - 5:57pm
Red Bull Ampol Racing’s Broc Feeney has held off Brodie Kostecki to achieve victory in the Penrite Sandown 500 for himself and co-driver Jamie Whincup.
Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Team Principal twice drove the #88 Camaro into the lead during the opening stints before handing over to Feeney.
A late Safety Car wiped out a five-second buffer and Kostecki attacked, but would ultimately finish 0.9816s behind after a time-certain 158 laps out of a scheduled 161.
Second place for Kostecki and David Russell in Erebus Motorsport’s #99 Coca-Cola Camaro saw the former extend his Repco Supercars Championship lead over Shane van Gisbergen, who finished third on the day with Richie Stanaway as co-driver.
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Stanaway had started 19th in the #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro but they were fourth in the closing stages before Will Brown ran long at the end of the back straight and dropped to fourth.
He would remain there in the #9 Coca-Cola Camaro in which Jack Perkins started the race, with Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner/Dale Wood (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro) rounding out the top five from 15th on the grid.
First Ford home was the #19 Penrite Mustang of Matt Payne/Kevin Estre in sixth but it was a disappointing and somewhat frightening end for their team-mates in Car #26.
Garth Tander was running fourth in David Reynolds’ Mustang when he lost a wheel on Lap 19, spinning into the fence and then the Dandenong Road gravel trap.
The errant wheel also came down on the #6 Tickford Racing entry, smashing the wing off the Cameron Waters Mustang being driven for the first stint by James Moffat.
Race start had been delayed by about 15 minutes in order to repair barriers on the back straight after a wild Dunlop Super2 Series race.
When the contest did get underway, Perkins led the field to the first corner in the car which Brown put on pole, from Russell in the sister Erebus machine.
Whincup started fifth but was on an early charge, picking off Alex Davison (#17 Shell V-Power Mustang) at Turn 4 on the opening lap then Moffat at Turn 1 on Lap 2.
There was a nervous moment when Whincup locked a brake into Dandenong Road that same lap but he continued the march, overtaking Russell at Turn 4 on Lap 3.
The five-time Sandown 500 winner, at the start of the day, quickly latched onto the rear of the #9 Camaro and passed Perkins for the lead at the start of Lap 5, stretching his margin to a full second on Lap 11.
Meanwhile, Tander had climbed to fourth, from Moffat, Davison, Estre, Tim Blanchard (#3 CoolDrive Mustang), a fast-starting Michael Caruso (#18 DeWalt Camaro), and Jaylyn Robotham (#35 Truck Assist Camaro), with Stanaway running 16th.
Estre passed Davison for sixth on Lap 18 at Turn 1, but there was high drama for the other Grove Racing car on Lap 19 which also delivered a literal blow to Tickford’s #6 entry.
Tander lost the left-rear wheel as he negotiated the esses and spun at high speed, slapping the fence on drivers’ right before coming to rest in the gravel trap.
Replays showed Moffat emerging from the scene of the accident without a rear wing, with the damage suggesting that the errant #26 wheel landed on the boot lid of Car #6.
The Safety Car prompted a round of pit stops and Perkins emerged back in the lead, from Whincup, Caruso, Estre, Blanchard, Alex Davison, Garry Jacobson (#55 Castrol Mustang), Jordan Boys (#96 Pizza Hut Camaro), Tyler Everingham (#56 Tradie Mustang), and Russell, with Craig Lowndes (#888 Supercheap Auto Camaro) in 15th and Stanaway in 16th.
Walkinshaw Andretti United was busy repairing bodywork on the #25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang while Tickford fitted a new rear wing to Car #6 and Moffat was dispatched again.
The race restarted on Lap 26 before Boys pinched a brake at Turn 1 and ultimately lost a handful of spots, but then the contest developed a rhythm.
Estre passed Caruso for third on Lap 39, by which time Whincup had caught Perkins, who had incurred a bad sportsmanship flag for breaching track limits.
Whincup got the move done on Lap 41 at Turn 1 and thus led the race again, and Russell was also on the climb, moving into sixth with a pass on Alex Davison at Dandenong Road on Lap 47.
He soon got by Blanchard and was then into fourth position with an overtake of Caruso.
Meanwhile, Jacobson ran into the run-off at the esses, with replays suggesting that earlier contact with Alex Davison had caused steering damage.
Stanaway was into the top 10 when he passed Alex Davison before the race ticked over to Lap 54 and thus most co-drivers had completed their minimum distance.
Perkins pitted from second on Lap 55 and Whincup was in from the lead two laps later, followed by Estre.
Once the pit stop cycle was done on Lap 62, Feeney led from an off-sequence Jayden Ojeda (#34 Truck Assist Camaro), Brown, Payne, Brodie Kostecki, Winterbottom (#18 Camaro), Tim Slade (#23 Nulon Camaro), Lowndes, Heimgartner, and van Gisbergen.
Feeney was five seconds to the good once Brown overtook Ojeda on Lap 68 at Turn 1, and that gap was still about the same by the time Lowndes passed Slade for seventh exactly four laps later.
Ojeda ran off at Dandenong Road on Lap 74 but managed to get back onto the track and pit at the end of that lap, handing over to Jack Le Brocq, while the #18 Camaro of Winterbottom/Caruso received a five-second penalty for breaching track limits.
Kostecki passed Payne for third on Lap 79 at Turn 1, while Lowndes’ progression up to sixth started to reverse, perhaps due to the rears on the #888 Camaro having worn out.
Just past halfway, Brown pitted from second at almost nine seconds behind Feeney, and the next pit stop cycle was soon on in earnest.
Once the cycle wrapped up, Feeney was back in first position and, with 100 laps in the books, he led from Brown, Kostecki, van Gisbergen, Payne, Heimgartner, Will Davison (#17 Mustang), Zane Goddard (#888 Camaro), Anton De Pasquale (#11 Mustang), and Winterbottom.
Feeney enjoyed a lead which was in double figures, albeit with around five seconds more fuel fill time required than Brown.
The latter was being caught by Kostecki, but he needed to sit still in the pits for about 11 seconds longer than his team-mate.
On Lap 119, Brown let Kostecki go past as they ran up the back straight, and the latter continued to run in second place until he pitted on Lap 125.
Brown took service on Lap 126 and in fact re-emerged behind Kostecki, before Feeney and Payne were into the lane on Lap 130.
Once Davison pitted from the official race lead a lap later, Feeney reassumed first position with a gap of about eight seconds to Kostecki.
Brown was third, from van Gisbergen, Heimgartner, Payne, and Davison, while Golding held eighth but still had to make another stop.
He did so on Lap 133, and Fullwood stopped on Lap 135, meaning De Pasquale inherited eighth, ahead of Slade and Goddard.
Kostecki had brought Feeney’s margin down to about 5.5s when a Safety Car was called on Lap 140 in order to recover Cameron Hill from the gravel trap at Dandenong Road.
Matt Stone Racing reported that a steering failure for the #35 Truck Assist Camaro was behind the off.
Despite the end of the race being near, none of the 13 who were still on the lead lap chose to pit, and hence Feeney continued to lead from Kostecki, Brown, van Gisbergen, Heimgartner, Payne, Alex Davison, De Pasquale, Slade, and Goddard.
Golding, though, was second in the queue in 14th, and Feeney was able to help himself to a 0.9664s lead as they crossed the control line for a restart with a nominal 18 laps to go of the 161.
Kostecki and Brown cleared him on the run to Turn 1, and the former quickly reeled Feeney in.
He was all over Feeney and had a slight look at Turn 4 on Lap 148, but that hurt his momentum and Brown closed in from behind.
With time-certainty looming, Feeney had stretched his lead to a full second, and Brown was another second further back in third.
On Lap 154, though, the latter gave up third place to van Gisbergen when he ran off the track at the esses, touring the run-off area and grass.
Feeney led by 1.1601s at the end of Lap 157, with time enough for just 3.1km more, went on to clinch victory at the circuit where Triple Eight joined the championship 20 years ago.
Van Gisbergen crossed the stripe just over a second behind Kostecki, with Brown fourth, Heimgartner fifth, and Payne just behind.
Davison/Davison took seventh, from team-mates De Pasquale/D’Alberto, then Slade/Jonathon Webb, and Lowndes/Goddard.
Waters would make the finish only a lap down in 20th, with just Car #35 and Car #26 the DNFs.
There will be a handful of tests in coming weeks, ahead of the Repco Bathurst 1000 on October 5-8.
CLICK HERE for full Race results
|2||Shane van Gisbergen||2016|
|8||Jack Le Brocq||1385|
|11||Anton De Pasquale||1314|
Teams’ championship points to follow