Race 28 2023 Repco Supercars Championship - Vailo 500 For the second year succession, the…
Race 26 in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship saw a race win for David Reynolds in the Penrite Racing Grove Mustang, while a second place finish for Brodie Kostecki enabled the Coca Cola Racing by Erebus driver to re-establish a three figure championship lead over Shane van Gisbergen.
Kostecki had both Penrite Racing Mustangs to contend with as the race began. He managed to stay at the head of the field through the opening chicane and held enough of a gap to discourage a late move on the approach to the Pizza Hut Hairpin.
Whilst the lead group all negotiated the hairpin without incident, the same could not be said for James Courtney, Tim Slade and Macauley Jones.
Courtney and Slade made contact in the mid-pack jostle on the opening lap, which left Slade nose in to the concrete wall and Courtney almost perpendicular to the racing line. Jones tried to avoid the Mustang ahead but made contact with the right rear corner. The incident put paid to all three drivers for the day and brought out the Safety Car for five laps.
Kostecki continued to lead at the resumption and through the two rounds of pit stops that followed at around Laps 25 and 60. Reynolds continued to be Kostecki’s main adversary for the win, while Payne dropped behind Waters and then came under some intense scrutiny from van Gisbergen as tyres became an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others.
Mark Winterbottom had been as high as third during the pitstop cycles and looked set for a top 10 finish, only to drop out of the top 10 during the final quarter of the race.
Kostecki had tailed Reynolds at the completion of the final pitstops and slowly ranged back onto the rear bumper of the golden Mustang.
On Lap 71 Kostecki pounced/ After trailing the leader through the first chicane, he moved inside under braking for the Pizza Hut Hairpin and out-dragged Reynolds on the run to the Beach Chicane. .
Two laps later Reynolds surprised Kostecki at the exit of Turn 11, positioning the Penrite Racing Mustang on the inside of the #99 and retaking the lead at the following corner.
The race was thrown another twist with 6 laps left to run.
James Golding hit the tyres at the exit of Turn 3, spun and came to a halt facing the oncoming traffic. He attempted a spin turn just as Scott Pye rounded the corner. Despite Pye’s efforts to avoid Golding, contact was made and the Hino supported Team 18 Camaro slid into the outside wall.
Pye continued down to Turn 4 with steering damage and stopped the car against the tyre barrier.
The Safety Car appeared as track marshals worked to remove stranded cars for the second time at the Pizza Hut Hairpin.
Reynolds led Kostecki as the green flags waved with four laps still to be run. The pair pulled away from third placed Waters almost immediately, as Payne, van Gisbergen, Brown and Golding ran in line-astern behind the Monster Energy Mustang.
The Penrite Racing Mustang continued to hold sway over the closing laps as Reynolds maintained his advantage over championship leader Kostecki. Not even a penultimate corner ‘tap’ from the Coca Cola Racing by Erebus Camaro was able to unsettle Reynolds as he powered down the front straight for the final time to take a hard earned win.
Kostecki finished second ahead of Waters. Payne, van Gisbergen, Brown, Golding, Randle, Mostert and Feeney completed the top 10.
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