After finishing second to teammate Jamie Whincup in Saturday’s opening race of the Townsville 400, Shane van Gisbergen has gone one better by claiming victory in Sunday’s 200-kilometre leg.

The weekend’s finale was spiced up by a late Safety Car interruption, with van Gisbergen holding on to victory by just 1.2 seconds ahead of a fast-closing James Courtney.

Courtney’s run to the finish was particularly impressive, with the HRT driver taking advantage of new tyres to carve his way from ninth to second in the final six laps of the race.

The former series champion edged out defending champion Mark Winterbottom for second place to continue the Holden Racing Team’s record of claiming at least one podium finish in every year the Townsville round has been held since its inception.

Saturday race-winner Whincup finished in fourth place after the Red Bull Racing team elected to switch pit strategies between he and van Gisbergen. Whincup originally had priority on the pit strategy by qualifying better than the New Zealander, but van Gisbergen flat-spotted his tyres early in the race and was called into the pits on Lap 12.

Whincup didn’t make his first pit stop for another dozen laps, emerging in twelfth position after taking on a heavy fuel load for his second stint of the race.

The second cycle of pit stops was triggered shortly after – with over 35 laps of the race to run – when rookie driver Kurt Kostecki crashed his CS Racing Holden into the fence at Turn 10 thanks to an apparent mechanical failure.

Whincup joined most of the field in making a second pit stop, vaulting to fourth place behind Winterbottom, van Gisbergen and David Reynolds thanks to a short fuel-fill time.

The race was restarted with 35 laps to run, giving the field a hard task in managing tyre wear and fuel consumption for the remaining 125-kilometre race distance. Van Gisbergen showed little caution in overtaking Winterbottom shortly after the restart, eking out a two-second lead.

A reprieve came eleven laps from the end when Andre Haimgartner’s Holden retired, triggering a flurry of final pit stops. Eighth-placed Courtney was the highest-placed runner to gamble on a third stop and a switch to fresh rubber, and it was a gamble that paid off as he carved his way up the field thanks to his considerably better grip.

Fifth place was claimed by Scott McLaughlin, bouncing back from his Saturday race tangle that cost the Volvo driver valuable championship points. He beat home Cameron Waters, Scott Pye, Michael Caruso, Jason Bright and Craig Lowndes, who fell down the order despite being among those to gamble on a third pit stop late in the race.

2016 Australian Supercars Castrol EDGE Townsville 400 – Race 15 Top-10 Finishers (70 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering 1:35:25.607
2. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 1.258
3. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 1.291
4. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering + 2.508
5. Scott McLaughlin Polestar GRM Volvo + 3.839
6. Cameron Waters Prodrive Racing Australia + 4.865
7. Scott Pye DJR Team Penske + 5.758
8. Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport + 6.144
9. Jason Bright Brad Jones Racing + 6.754
10. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering + 7.928

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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