Shane van Gisbergen started his Supercars title defence with clinical precision by clean-sweeping the Clipsal 500, claiming victory in Sunday’s proceedings to take away the maximum 300 championship points on offer.
Coming off a strong performance which included victory from pole position on Saturday, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver repeated the feat on Sunday, denying Scott McLaughlin and DJR Team Penske a drought-breaking win in the process.
The reigning champion put himself in the box seat by taking another pole position in the Top-10 Shootout. Fabian Coulthard, McLaughlin, Chaz Mostert, James Courtney, Nick Percat, Cam Waters, Garth Tander, Tim Slade and Jamie Whincup (whose shootout time was disallowed for kerb-hopping) occupied the first five rows.
As the lights went out, van Gisbergen lit up the rears and lost out on the run to Turn 1, getting beaten once again by a faster-starting Coulthard. McLaughlin was also quick off the line and muscled his way past van Gisbergen at the chicane. That left the DJR Team Penske cars running one-two, running away from the pack in the early laps.
The infamous Turn 8 claimed another victim as Percat went wide and in to the barriers. His day was done but by being able to limp back to the pits it meant the race could continue under green flag conditions. Tander also found the wall but his GRM Holden wasn’t damaged, and he was able to go on.
McLaughlin was the first of the front pack to pit, relatively early on Lap 8, looking for an undercut after finding himself held up by Coulthard. The team did well and after the first cycle of stops, he emerged as the leader. Courtney held up an evidently quicker van Gisbergen, allowing McLaughlin to open up a decent gap at the front.
As the leader was able to open up a nine-second lead by the half-way point in the race, van Gisbergen was finally able to get by Courtney and try to make use of the same strategic call his team had used to get him to victory on Saturday: a long-fill first stop.
The Red Bull strategy of a shorter pit stop at the end was at risk because of the amount of time he was held up being Courtney, but with the Mobil 1 HSV driver now deposed, he was back in the hunt.
With the final round of stops complete, McLaughlin came out with a decent margin ahead of van Gisbergen. While victory wasn’t certain, it seemed that at least one of the Kiwis would end up on the top step.
The final phase of the race saw van Gisbergen chip away at McLaughlin’s lead, although it seemed like it wouldn’t be quite enough. As the saying goes, it’s one thing to catch up, but it’s something else to pass.
In the twilight laps, McLaughlin lost his margin and in no time, van Gisbergen was on his tail. With five laps to go, the gap was less than a second as the lead car desperately tried to stay in front.
With four to go, the pressure became too much as McLaughlin locked his rear brakes coming to the Turn 9 hairpin. Van Gisbergen needed no further invitation to slip by and was able to run away into the sunset, notching up his 21st career win and a century for the VF Commodore model.
While the DJR Team Penske cars had pace, the combination of factors weren’t enough to win just yet and a frustrated McLaughlin was consigned to finish second.
Mostert, who had put on green tyres in his final stint, came home in an excellent third place, giving Prodrive their first podium of the season. Courtney, Coulthard, Whincup, Slade, Waters, Todd Kelly and Lowndes rounded up the top ten.
Celebrating back-to-back victories, van Gisbergen holds a 51-point advantage in the Drivers’ Championship standings over Coulthard and Courtneym with Mostert and Waters also in the top five.
There will be little rest after two long races, however, as the paddock moves to a series of non-championship races supporting the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix between March 24-26 before championship duties resume at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains Raceway in early April.
|2017 Australian Supercars Clipsal Adelaide 500 – Race 2 Top-10 Finishers (78 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||1:47:18.859|
|2.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske||+ 10.123|
|3.||Chaz Mostert||SuperCheap Auto Racing||+ 19.544|
|4.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||+ 21.188|
|5.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power DJR Team Penske||+ 29.518|
|6.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 31.419|
|7.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing BJR||+ 33.870|
|8.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Prodrive Racing||+ 40.679|
|9.||Todd Kelly||Carsales Nissan Motorsport||+ 42.194|
|10.||Craig Lowndes||TeamVortex||+ 43.771|
Image via Motorsport.com and Red Bull Content Pool