Shane van Gisbergen seemed certain to win the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 but left completely devastated. Just 13 days later he can forget at least some of that pain.
The young Kiwi was perfectly placed for a huge breakthrough at Mount Panorama until he tragically stalled his car at the final pit stop and couldn’t restart. The pictures were heartbreaking.
Fast forward to the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 and it was a different story altogether. He, and co-driver Jonathon Webb, scored the victory they might well have deserved at Bathurst in the small Tekno VIP Petfood’s Holden Commodore on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
In what was a war of strategy and survival, Van Gisbergen, who started from ARMOR ALL Pole Position, lasted with a very fast car and a cool head.
He beat home the man, Jamie Whincup (Paul Dumbrell), who he diced with in one of the best finishes seen at the event a few years back and a pain relieving third by Supercheap Auto Racing’s Tim Slade (Tony D’Alberto) Commodore after a year of horrendous bad luck.
Slade and D’Alberto were given the podium back after Pepsi Max Crew’s Mark Winterbottom passed him on the final corner. Winterbottom was deemed to have pushed Slade out of the way in order to pass with officials stripping the third place from the FPR team.
On better tyres than Whincup in the closing laps, Van Gisbergen managed the gap he had to the five-time Champion who had similar pain to Van Gisbergen at Bathurst when he ran out of fuel.
Van Gisbergen admitted relief after his Bathurst nightmare, something he had not expressed before.
“It (the win) certainly helps,” he said for the first time.
“But it was the first time I had ever been in a position to win that race (Bathurst). It means so much to everyone and there were so many heartbreak stories. So it makes up for some of it but next year I have to go back and win it.
“Today was great. Jonathon did a great job. PD was a little bit quicker on him but once it settled down we had really good pace and it was quite good to put out front too.
“The race was quite high in intensity out there and in the middle of the race I had to pass a lot of cars and put out good times. When Jamie pitted he was going pretty quick so I knew I had to keep the gap to come out in front.
“I like going out there and going for it. Bathurst, Adelaide and here are all tough tracks (his three pole positions) and ones where you have to really hang it out for that one lap I do enjoy that and seems to reward us as well.”
Slade’s heroic finish was an incredible feat with the team unable to fill his cool suit during the race after damage to the door. Slade, considered one of the fittest athletes in any sport and a highly competitive triathlete, was ‘cooked’ and delirious before being taken away for medical attention.
Slade and D’Alberto had a fan in Whincup who agreed with the move to reward them with the podium.
“You can’t bump and run,” Whincup said. “You can’t hit someone square behind and then drive past them out of the corner so it’s pretty clear.
“Massive move by the category changing the podium, I’ve never seen that but good on them, a big call needed to be made they did the right thing.”
There was the usual dramas with a start line incident putting James Courtney/Greg Murphy out of the race, contact with concrete with David Reynolds/Dean Canto done, and pounding the tyre bundles which ultimately cost a few cars.
Michael Caruso/Taz Douglas finished fifth, with Chaz Mostert/Paul Morris sixth – even after dropping a lap down at one point, Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat seventh after taking an alternate strategy, and Scott Pye/Ash Walsh, Russell Ingall/Tim Blanchard and Garth Tander/Warren Luff completing the top 10.
Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards finished 18th after Lowndes flat spotted a tyre and had to replace the front splitter in pit lane.
The second race of the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600 across another 300kms is set for tomorrow afternoon after an earlier qualifying session.