Shane van Gisbergen has secured runner-up spot in the 2014 V8 Supercars Championship drivers’ standings with victory in the final race of the season at Sydney’s Olympic Park circuit, which was red-flagged as another wild downpour lashed the area.
In a repeat of Saturday’s Race 2 dramas, another frightening storm front lashed the western Sydney street track during the race and rapidly flooded the circuit, causing officials to abandon the race after 44 laps of the 250-kilometre race when conditions didn’t ease.
Nonetheless, van Gisbergen – who has quickly stamped his authority on street circuits and in mix weather conditions – proved unbeatable here, regardless of the conditions, en route to claiming another win at the Homebush circuit.
The New Zealander quickly charged into the lead during the damp opening laps, passing pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin – who was jumped by Garth Tander at the start – before getting past the HRT Holden driver on the third lap.
Conditions dried to the point that a switch to the Dunlop dry weather tyres was needed, and after the field had cycled through its pit stops, van Gisbergen had built a six-second lead over Tander and the chasing pack.
The predicted rain returned with interest at the midpoint of the race, but it only hit half the circuit and that allowed Tander – who did not join the rush for the pits to switch to wet tyres – the opportunity to gain ground on van Gisbergen.
It was a decisive move, for when he did pit, he’d done enough to emerge from the pits just ahead of his fellow Holden driver. The pair ran nose-to-tail in a tense battle, which was ultimately resolved in van Gisbergen’s favour when Tander locked up and slid up an escape road. Cruelly, the incident occurred just seconds before race officials declared the deteriorating conditions to be too risky and declared a full-course caution.
Van Gisbergen was now in the lead from Tander and his teammate James Courtney, and that’s how the order remained with the race being red-flagged soon after. Jamie Whincup finished his run to his sixth V8 Supercars Championship crown by finishing in fourth place, followed by Chaz Mostert, Tim Slade and Rick Kelly and McLaughlin, who lost ground after being trapped in the narrow pit lane by another car queued for service.
Van Gisbergen’s win – coupled with another shocking race for his points rivals, Mark Winterbottom and Craig Lowndes – moved him from fourth to second in the Drivers’ Championship standings, although he was more than 500 points adrift of the ultimate winner, Whincup.
Lowndes was still with discomfort following his Saturday qualifying smash, and qualified well down the order before he had another off-track excursion early in the race en route to finishing a lowly 17th behind series returnee Marcos Ambrose.
Winterbottom had a home race to forget. He was nudged up the escape road by Courtney on the opening lap and – mirroring his Race 1 dramas yesterday – biffed the wall later on; he finished 19th.
2014 V8 Supercars Sydney NRMA 500 – Race 38 Results (44 laps*):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||TEKNO VIP Petfoods / Holden Commodore VF||1:14:50.042|
|2.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 1.816|
|3.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team / Holden Commodore VF||+ 5.289|
|4.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 6.246|
|5.||Chaz Mostert||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 7.599|
|6.||Tim Slade||SuperCheap Auto Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 9.274|
|7.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 10.614|
|8.||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||+ 12.090|
|9.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Holden Commodore VF||+ 12.803|
|10.||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 13.700|
|11.||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing/ Holden Commodore VF||+ 15.681|
|12.||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 16.469|
|13.||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Ford Falcon FG||+ 17.125|
|14.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing / Nissan Altima||+ 18.906|
|15.||James Moffat||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||+ 19.798|
|16.||Marcos Ambrose||XBOX Racing DJR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 20.816|
|17.||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing / Holden Commodore VF||+ 23.365|
|18.||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport / Mercedes E63 AMG||+ 24.097|
|19.||Mark Winterbottom||Pepsi Max Crew FPR / Ford Falcon FG||+ 24.656|
|20.||Russell Ingall||Repair Management / Holden Commodore VF||+ 26.664|
|21.||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||+ 27.712|
|22.||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing / Ford Falcon FG||– 1 lap|
|23.||Jack Perkins||Jeld-Wen / Ford Falcon FG||– 1 lap|
|24.||Dale Wood||Team ADVAM / Holden Commodore VF||– 1 lap|
|DNF.||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing Polestar GRM / Volvo S60||28 laps|
|DNF.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Hornets / Nissan Altima||6 laps|
Image via Christian Hartung