Race 28 2023 Repco Supercars Championship - Vailo 500 For the second year succession, the…
A new day, new qualifying session but the same result as Red Bull Racing completed a lock out of the front row for the longer 41 lap race later today.
Jamie Whincup lowered his pole position time on his first flying lap and, though he did try to better the time, was unable to do so. Shane van Gisbergen was able to improve after his first attempt left the #97 Commodore 6/10ths of a second behind Whincup. Subsequent runs dropped the margin to less than half a second, but Whincup’s time was simply unattainable. Craig Lowndes made it a Triple 8 triple at the top of the time sheets early in the session only to drop back to 6th as the session reached the business end, however it was a huge improvement from his 25th starting position the previous day.
Scott Pye also had a dramatic change in fortunes with the 4th best time, just behind fellow South Australian Tim Slade in 4th. Michael Caruso followed up on his podium finish in Saturday’s race to qualify in 5th. On the other side of the ledger, Tickford Racing went in the opposite direction after a strong showing the day before. Cameron Waters was the best of the team in 14th. Mark Winterbottom dropped to 17th with Chaz Mostert 24th. Richie Stanaway had a miserable qualifying run with 27th on the grid. He then dropped to the rear of the grid after a post qualifying investigation for a dangerous return to the circuit which impeded the GRM Commodore of James Golding. For Golding the situation must have had a sense of Deja Vu after a similar incident with Jamie Whincup the day before. Stanaway was issued with a grid penalty. However, due to his lowly starting position, the full penalty cannot be applied. As a result, the Kiwi driver will serve the remaining two place penalty at next month’s Sandown 500.
Jamie Whincup converted his pole position with a flag to flag win race 23, the second race at the new Tailem Bend facility in South Australia. The race ran under green conditions which meant that the double stacking issues from the previous day were not a factor in the overall result. Shane van Gisbergen finished second as Scott Mclaughlin endured another frustrating day at the wrong end of the top 10 and conceded the lead in the 2018 Vigrin Australia Supercars Championship as a result, having seen a lead of over 80 points wiped out to a 19 point deficit as the Endurance season begins in September.
The Red Bull duo made strong starts and led through turn 1, though a loose exit for van Gisbergen enabled Tim Slade to take second on the run towards turn 2. Deep in the pack Richie Stanaway and James Golding made Kurt Kostecki the meat in the sandwich as the two series regulars looked to pass the wildcard entry at turn 6. Contact between Golding and Kostecki pushed the Arcoplate Commodore into the Tickford Ford. The contact broke the right rear suspension on Kostecki’s car and ended the young driver’s race.
The two compulsory pitstops saw a variety of strategies as some elected to stop at the conclusion of the first lap. Garth Tander and Andre Heimgartner stopped on the third lap, though a misjudgment by the Nissan driver at the pit entry saw him slam into the rear of Tander’s Commodore. The damage to Heimgartner’s Nissan Altima was significant enough for the team to immediately retire the car, while Tander continued after a long stop and later complained of a sore neck from the impact.
The first stops brought a change to the order as teams ran different fuel strategies. Scott Pye emerged from his first stop marginally ahead of van Gisbergen, with Craig Lowndes close behind. A brief altercation followed as the Red Bull and Boost Mobile Commodores rubbed panels before van Gisbergen regained the ascendency. Lee Holdswoth suffered an unusual failure when the right driveshaft somehow popped out of the car and fell onto the track. Quick action from the track Marshals and the presence of mind from Holdsworth to pull off the track averted the need for the safety car. A short first stop enabled Michael Caruso to challenge Shane van Gisbergen until a brief excursion and a longer second stop balanced the scales as Caruso dropped down to 9th at the finish.
Shane van Gisbergen ran a conservative pitstop strategy and made his final stop at the mid point of the race, while Jamie Whincup made his stop three laps later. As the final stops were completed Whincup held a 10 second advantage over van Gisbergen with Tim Slade in 3rd. As the laps counted down David Reynolds moved into 4th and looked to challenge Tim Slade over the final 10 laps of the race. Slade held out the Penrite car until a brake lock at turn 1 saw the BJR Commodore run wide and concede 3rd place.
Jamie Whincup claimed the win from Shane van Gisbergen, who reclaimed the lap record during the race and also the lead in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship. David Reynolds claimed 3rd as Holdens took the first six places in the race. Tim Slade finished 4th from Nick Percat and Scott Pye. Will Davison was the first Ford runner in 7th, while Craig Lowndes, Michael Caruso and Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top 10.
“It’s great to come back after yesterday,” Jamie Whincup told the media. “Big thanks to all the engineers at Red Bull, they worked hard before the event to get the cars quick and then worked together tirelessly throughout the weekend to make sure we had two fast cars.”
Red Bull had double cause for celebration as Shane van Gisbergen regained the championship lead and he was pretty excited with the result.
“That’s pretty awesome.” van Gisbergen exclaimed. “I saw the purple board and got a bit excited. There’s a long way to go, we need to keep our heads down, but the team gave us some rockets this weekend, a one-two is really special.”