Race 28 2023 Repco Supercars Championship - Vailo 500 For the second year succession, the…
Jamie Whincup took the honours with pole position, however it was Shane vanGisbergen who won the first ever race at the Tailem Bend circuit this afternoon. The Red Bull duo locked out the front row in qualifying and survived post qualifying investigations to secure the front row of the grid for race.
Whincup sat down in 21st place as the qualifying session entered its final minutes after a spin on a fast lap at turn 12 left him stranded on the side of the circuit. As he moved his Commodore back onto the racing line, GRM’s James Golding had to move to the left edge of the circuit to avoid the slower car. Stewards deemed Golding to be at fault for not slowing in a yellow flag zone.
Shane vanGisbergen also struggled for grip during the early part of the session as many of the field also found it difficult to complete a fast, clean lap. The #97 Commodore came upon Scott McLaughlin as he worked the Shell V-Power Ford up to race speed. vanGisbergen looked to pass on the left and then right of McLaughlin only to find the red and white car in the way on both occasions. He eventually moved ahead and then slowed suddenly as McLaughlin looked to bank a fast lap. The Ford driver was forced to abandon the lap which earned the attention of the race stewards. After an investigation it was revealed that Shane vanGisbergen had rightly slowed as he entered a yellow flag zone. Whincup and vanGisbergen were cleared of any wrongdoing and kept their front row starting positions for race.
Michael Caruso and Rick Kelly claimed row 2 for Nissan, while Scott McLaughlin and Mark Winterbottom made it an all Ford affair on row 3, with fellow Tickford drivers Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters on row 4. Tim Slade and Garth Tander rounded out the top 10. James Courtney and Craig Lowndes found themselves 24th and 25th respectively as teams struggled to find the best set up for the highly technical circuit.
In the Race Jamie Whincup made an excellent start to head vanGisbergen into turn 1 and Caruso and Kelly ran side by side through the turn. Mark Winterbottom had already dropped back some 20 metres from the leaders as Chaz Mostert looked to move outside Scott McLaughlin for the favoured line into turn 2. Cameron Waters followed Mostert as Garth Tander ran up the inside of the black Monster Energy Ford. The Red Bull Commodores worked together to pull away from the following pack and held a 4 second lead over Caruso by the end of lap 2. A turn 1 incident between Jack LeBrocq and Anton dePasquale saw the Tekno Commodore pointed in the wrong direction. Le Brocq then produced an excellent recovery to take rookie honours in 16th place.
Shane vanGisbergen took the lead on lap 5 with a well timed run on the inside of the #1 Commodore at turn 6. Rick Kelly passed his teammate on the following lap when Caruso ran on the ripple strip at turn 14 and compromised his exit speed. Garth Tander’s excellent result in qualifying had placed him a strong position at the start of the race, however an engine sensor issue slowed the GRM Commodore and the car stopped on track at the last corner. The deployment of the safety car on lap 7 saw the field pit immediately for the compulsory pit stop. The strategy worked against Whincup, who was forced to double stack behind vanGisbergen and dropped down to 8th when the race resumed a short time later.
From there it was a relatively trouble free run for vanGisbergen as the Kiwi survived an early challenge from Kelly to pull out a comfortable gap. Whincup had the benefit of an excellent set up and was considerably faster than the cars ahead. He moved past Mostert, Davison, McLaughlin and then Winterbottom at the end of the main straight to claim 4th place. Craig Lowndes and James Courtney found a much better race package and jumped 16 and 15 places respectively to finish inside the top 10.
“Awesome race,” exclaimed Shane vanGisbergen. “I had a good battle with Jamie at the start and then unfortunately he had to be put back. Rick put a lot of pressure on and it was really good, but then it was about staying on track . It was so hard, one line and very hard, but I just tried to behave.”
Michael Caruso was delighted to be back on the podium. “It’s great to be back on the podium,” Caruso said. “It was tricky, there was more dust on the track than off the track, it felt like. It was tough, but to come to a brand new track and our team perform so strong, we should all be proud of ourselves.”
- Shane vanGisbergen
- Rick Kelly
- Michael Caruso
- Jamie Whincup
- Mark Winterbottom
- Scott McLaughlin
- Will Davison
- James Courtney
- Chaz Mostert
- Craig Lowndes.
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