Race report

Supercars Sydney: Van Gisbergen three-stops to victory in season opener

Triple Eight Holden driver Shane van Gisbergen used a three-stop strategy to win the opening Supercars race of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

The roll of the strategic dice worked well for van Gisbergen, who easily ran down race-long rivals Anton De Pasquale and Will Brown during his short final stint.

That sealed a perfect start to his title defence, the Kiwi joined on the podium by De Pasquale and a fast-finishing Chaz Mostert. 

Andre Heimgartner was the only driver in the lead group to start on the supersoft compound, however a poor start meant he went backwards, from fourth to sixth, before going forwards.

Once he was going forwards, Heimgartner made rapid progress, working his way into second by lap four before catching and passing early leader De Pasquale on lap eight. 

It was third-placed van Gisbergen who was first of the lead group to pit, taking on another set of softs on lap 20. 

Heimgartner and De Pasquale, at that point split by around four seconds, followed suit on lap 24, Heimgartner switching to the soft as De Pasquale took on supersofts.

As the stops shook out, van Gisbergen took over the lead ahead of a supersofts-shod Will Brown. 

Heimgartner and De Pasquale resumed in fifth and sixth respectively, although De Pasquale - with his supersoft tyres - wasted little time clearing the Kiwi and then David Reynolds to move into third.

He then closed up onto the back of Brown, but couldn't find a way through into second place until lap 42. 

Will Brown, Erebus Holden

Will Brown, Erebus Holden

Photo by: Edge Photographics

By that stage, van Gisbergen was 12s down the road, however the Kiwi opted to pit on that same lap to take on supersofts, which committed him to a three-stopper.

Brown followed suit two laps later, while De Pasquale stayed out on his supersofts as the race leader until lap 52.

The lead then went back to van Gisbergen, who bolted as he looked to build a big enough lead to take his extra stop and still be in the hunt. 

The Kiwi made that final stop on lap 63 with around 40s up his sleeve over Brown and De Pasquale.

He resumed around 10s behind leader Brown, but with significantly better rubber for the 14-lap run home.

Helping van Gisbergen's cause was Brown and De Pasquale squabbling over the lead. De Pasquale managed to break down Brown's defence 10 laps from the end, however by that point van Gisbergen was already on their bumpers. 

By the end of that very same lap, he was through both Brown and De Pasquale and on his way to a 19.5s win.

The victory also marked Jamie Whincup's first as Triple Eight team principal and first for van Gisbergen with his new engineer Andrew Edwards. 

"It's a team win - I had no idea what was happening in the middle of the race," said van Gisbergen. 

"We're lucky the weather held out. We've had some big [staff] changes, but the team feels the same. It's a great way to start."

De Pasquale finished second while Brown, hurting in terms of tyre quality, dropped like a stone in the closing laps.

He was passed by Mostert, Will Davison, Brodie Kostecki and Nick Percat as he slumped to seventh ahead of Slade and full-time debutant Broc Feeney. 

Heimgartner was running sixth until the very end of the race, but seemed to run out of fuel on the final lap, which dropped him to 15th. 

Scott Pye, meanwhile, endured a terrible start to his new season, the powersteering failing on his Team 18 Holden after contact with James Courtney inside the first 10 laps of the race.

He limped back to the pits for lengthy repairs, making a brief appearance late on before retiring. 

Reynolds was hit by a mechanical problem, too, an issue with his gearbox costing him 12 laps in the pits.

The Sydney SuperNight continues with a second 300-kilometre race on Sunday.

Result - 77 laps

Cla Driver Car Gap
1 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore ZB  
2 Australia Anton De Pasquale Ford Mustang GT 19.558
3 Australia Chaz Mostert Holden Commodore ZB 31.053
4 Australia Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 37.500
5 Brodie Kostecki Holden Commodore ZB 38.806
6 Australia Nick Percat Holden Commodore ZB 39.393
7 Australia Will Brown Holden Commodore ZB 41.113
8 Australia Tim Slade Ford Mustang GT 50.790
9 Broc Feeney Holden Commodore ZB 52.477
10 Australia James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 54.523
11 Australia Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 1'03.149
12 Australia Bryce Fullwood Holden Commodore ZB 1'15.071
13 Australia Jack Le Brocq Holden Commodore ZB 1'21.630
14 Australia Todd Hazelwood Holden Commodore ZB 1'21.811
15 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner Holden Commodore ZB 1'27.045
16 Australia Mark Winterbottom Holden Commodore ZB  
17 Australia Jack Smith Holden Commodore ZB  
18 Australia Garry Jacobson Holden Commodore ZB  
19 Australia Jake Kostecki Ford Mustang GT  
20 Australia Thomas Randle Ford Mustang GT  
21 Australia Lee Holdsworth Ford Mustang GT  
22 Australia Macauley Jones Holden Commodore ZB  
23 New Zealand Chris Pither Holden Commodore ZB  
24 Australia David Reynolds Ford Mustang GT  
  Australia Scott Pye Holden Commodore ZB  
Previous article Triple Eight takes legal action against Supercars engineer Cauchi
Next article Supercars Sydney: Mostert wins mixed-weather thriller