Supercars Sydney: Mostert wins mixed-weather thriller
Chaz Mostert snatched victory in a mixed-weather thriller to close out the opening round of the Supercars season at Sydney Motorsport Park.
Some well-timed cautions helped bring Mostert into contention mid-way through the 300-kilometre race.
Once in contention there was no stopping Mostert, not even a late deluge able to deny the Walkinshaw Andretti United ace victory.
De Pasquale was the first leader of the race, the Dick Johnson Racing driver getting the jump on Kostecki at the start, but his stint at the front was short-lived as his soft compound rubber no match for the super soft tyres on both Kostecki and Broc Feeney's cars.
By the second lap Kostecki and Feeney were through, those two staging a brief battle for the lead before Kostecki took control of the first stint.
The gap between the pair hung around the two-second mark for much of the stint, with De Pasquale leading the way of the soft-shod cars around four seconds behind the leader.
Further back in the field it was a rollercoaster of an opening stint for Saturday race winner Shane van Gisbergen. Despite starting on the soft, the Kiwi made good early headway from 21st on the grid, getting as high as 12th by lap six.
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering
Photo by: Edge Photographics
However he was then caught out by a burst of rain, a spin dropping him to the back of the pack and prompting a stop to take on wet tyres.
But that proved to be the wrong call. The rain was short-lived, van Gisbergen going a lap down before pitting again to go back to slicks.
Back at the front, De Pasquale kicked off the first round of stops for the leaders with a lap 25 switch to the super soft rubber.
Kostecki stopped to swap his super softs for softs a lap later, while Feeney went a lap longer again before switching to softs, resuming behind Kostecki and De Pasquale.
The Safety Car made its first appearance of the weekend on lap 32 so that crews could retrieve two stranded cars – Jake Kostecki's Ford and Garry Jacobson's Holden.
The caution was good news for super soft-shod De Pasquale, who was quickly able to close onto the back of leader Kostecki.
Feeney, meanwhile, dropped out of the lead race across the second stint after squabbling with Will Davison.
The cation prompted a wave of stops, some swift work from Erebus helping Kostecki hold onto the effective race lead over De Pasquale.
Anton De Pasquale, Dick Johnson Racing
Photo by: Dick Johnson Racing
It was at that point that Mostert, who been at the front of the next group of cars, came into play. The Walkinshaw driver found himself sitting in effective third and with the super soft tyres on his car.
When the race went green again on lap 51 Mostert put that tyre advantage to good use, immediately passing De Pasquale and Kostecki to take the lead. Mostert was able to pull well clear Kostecki in the laps that followed, only for the weather to become a wildcard inside the last 15 laps.
The long-expected rain started to materialise at a rate that made the decision to stick with slicks, or swap for wets, tough to call.
By lap 66 most of the field was on wets with Mostert, Kostecki and De Pasquale holding formation.
But they were no longer fighting for the lead, Jack Le Brocq taking over top spot as he rolled the dice on staying out on slicks.
Unfortunately for Le Brocq the gamble didn't pay off, Mostert and Kostecki running him down before he ended up beached seven laps from home. That sparked a final caution and set up a three-lap sprint to the flag.
But Mostert had all the answers, quickly breaking Kostecki on the restart and cruising to a 2.7s win that has left him as the early championship leader.
"I never thought I would ever an orange number on my car," he said. "Driving up and seeing this [championship leader] sign is pretty cool.
"I know it's Round 1, but it's cool to tick that box off the list.
"I don't know where to start. What a race, what a weekend for us, a third and a first. I didn't expect that coming here after last year."
Chaz Mostert, Walkinshaw Andretti United
Photo by: Mark Horsburgh, Edge Photographics
Kostecki finished second while De Pasquale finished third before a bizarre cool-down lap crash. He tried to drift around the final corner, only to spear to the inside of the circuit and clobber the wall.
Cam Waters finished fourth ahead of Andre Heimgartner, while van Gisbergen popped up in sixth despite his early struggles. The Kiwi managed to get his lap back during the cautions, before charging back through the field.
Feeney, meanwhile, dropped down to 11th at the finish.
The 2022 season continues with the Tasmania SuperSprint on 26-27 March.
Supercars Sydney - Race 2 results:
|1||25||Chaz Mostert||Holden Commodore ZB|
|2||99||Brodie Kostecki||Holden Commodore ZB||2.766|
|3||11||Anton De Pasquale||Ford Mustang GT||4.433|
|4||6||Cameron Waters||Ford Mustang GT||4.973|
|5||8||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore ZB||6.846|
|6||97||Shane van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore ZB||7.872|
|7||17||Will Davison||Ford Mustang GT||9.346|
|8||9||Will Brown||Holden Commodore ZB||9.805|
|9||26||David Reynolds||Ford Mustang GT||10.773|
|10||3||Tim Slade||Ford Mustang GT||11.579|
|11||88||Broc Feeney||Holden Commodore ZB||11.959|
|12||18||Mark Winterbottom||Holden Commodore ZB||14.602|
|13||35||Todd Hazelwood||Holden Commodore ZB||14.715|
|14||55||Thomas Randle||Ford Mustang GT||15.728|
|15||20||Scott Pye||Holden Commodore ZB||16.719|
|16||10||Lee Holdsworth||Ford Mustang GT||17.286|
|17||5||James Courtney||Ford Mustang GT||17.988|
|18||4||Jack Smith||Holden Commodore ZB||1 Lap|
|19||14||Bryce Fullwood||Holden Commodore ZB||1 Lap|
|20||22||Chris Pither||Holden Commodore ZB||1 Lap|
|21||96||Macauley Jones||Holden Commodore ZB||2 Laps|
|22||34||Jack Le Brocq||Holden Commodore ZB||3 Laps|
|23||2||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore ZB||8 Laps|
|24||56||Jake Kostecki||Ford Mustang GT||9 Laps|
|76||Garry Jacobson||Holden Commodore ZB||48 Laps|
|View full results|
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