Shane van Gisbergen has started his 2018 Supercars Championship campaign in the same way he began 2017 by taking each pole and win available over the Adelaide 500 round weekend.
The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver fought with his car for the entire 250-kilometre race which went green the whole way to take another career win and his fourth straight around the Adelaide Parklands Circuit.
For the second year in a row, van Gisbergen clean swept the pole positions in Adelaide, narrowly out-qualifying his defending champion teammate Jamie Whincup by 0.0084 seconds, making it a Red Bull lockout on the front row of the grid.
A tardy start from van Gisbergen meant Whincup moved in to the lead off the line, bringing the field to the line on the opening lap from his teammate, Scott McLaughlin, Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds, the latter pair trading positions in the opening corners.
On Lap 7, Winterbottom came in for his first stop of the race, pitting from fourth position and coming out of the pits with a clear track in front of him. Van Gisbergen entered the pit lane on the next lap from second, only just rejoining in front of Winterbottom and struggling in the first lap on cold tyres after overshooting his pit bay.
Mostert became the next driver to pit on Lap 12, stalling on his way out of the box but getting back on track with no traffic nearby. It wasn’t until Lap 15 that the next key player came in, the #17 of McLaughlin taking his first stop for a short fill of fuel, dropping back in just behind van Gisbergen but in front of Winterbottom.
Whincup came in from the lead on Lap 16, adopting a different strategy to his teammate, coming out with plenty of time in hand over the pursuing pack. Reynolds became the last of the main pack to pit on Lap 18, losing only one spot in effect to Courtney.
While Whincup was able to run away in to the distance up front, van Gisbergen was struggling to match his lap times and came under pressure from McLaughlin behind who had the advantage of fresher tyres. McLaughlin’s charge would come to a sudden halt when he copped a puncture on Lap 26 on the run to Turn 8.
The lead that Whincup had built up vanished as his car developed a terminal issue on Lap 31, having to limp back to the garage and barely making it to the pit lane, being assisted by the marshals then his crew to get it to his pit bay. This retirement brought Whincup’s streak of 136 races without a DNF to an end and took 150 potential points away from him in the title race.
With the issues for Whincup, van Gisbergen assumed the lead from Winterbottom and Courtney who was being challenged by Reynolds. Tander in fifth on the road looked good for a strong finish due to taking a larger amount of fuel in the opening stop than his rivals.
Courtney pitted on Lap 37, gambling with topping up the car on the critical lap to make it home, banking on a Safety Car in the final half of the race to make it home without having to conserve fuel. Mostert and Pye dived in for their final stops the next lap, looking to make it to the end comfortably and crucially jumping Courtney on track.
Winterbottom and Waters became the next to stop, the former coming out clear of Mostert and the latter slotting in between Mostert and Courtney who had pushed his way past teammate Pye. Courtney tried to attack Waters but was blocked, making it a pair of Tickford and Walkinshaw cars battling.
Tander’s stop went to plan, rejoining ahead of Winterbottom on Lap 42 and van Gisbergen came in at the end of the lap, slightly missing his marks and nearly running in to the Coulthard car on the exit from his bay and coming out just ahead of Tander on the road.
Reynolds became the last to stop out of the leaders on Lap 45, fueling to the end and managing to come out just ahead of van Gisbergen, having to block all the way down to the wall in to Turn 4 and eventually getting passed at Turn 9 while struggling on cold tyres.
Winterbottom became the first big name victim to cop a pit lane penalty due to overuse of the Turn 2 kerbs, coming in from fifth on the road on Lap 57. McLaughlin came in from the lead for his final stop, rejoining in 16th after the earlier tyre failure. He followed his teammate Coulthard initially before passing him and later overtook Rick Kelly, Winterbottom and Will Davison.
In the final five laps, the top three of van Gisbergen, Reynolds and Tander were covered by around two seconds with the leader struggling though the Erebus car in second couldn’t get close enough to land any punches as Tander’s GRM Commodore started to slip back.
Despite a diminishing gap, van Gisbergen couldn’t be caught by anyone, going on to again clean sweep Adelaide for the second year in a row, taking his 26th career win over Reynolds and Tander who rounded out the podium.
The remainder of the top ten was rounded out by Mostert, Waters, Courtney, Lowndes, Pye, Caruso and McLaughlin who fought up the pack on cold tyres to maximise his points haul on a day of damage limitation.
|2018 Australian Supercars Adelaide 500 – Race 2 Final Classification (78 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||1:48:02.091|
|2.||David Reynolds||Erebus Penrite Racing||+ 0.825|
|3.||Garth Tander||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 3.632|
|4.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing Team||+ 5.956|
|5.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 11.271|
|6.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||+ 13.950|
|7.||Craig Lowndes||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||+ 14.683|
|8.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||+ 16.886|
|9.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 17.272|
|10.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 25.086|
|11.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||+ 25.798|
|12.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 30.235|
|13.||Mark Winterbottom||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 30.727|
|14.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 34.923|
|15.||Nick Percat||Blackwoods Racing||+ 35.577|
|16.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 42.185|
|17.||Anton de Pasquale||Erebus Racing||+ 44.045|
|18.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 51.846|
|19.||James Golding||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 1:03.203|
|20.||Richie Stanaway||MEGA Racing||+ 1:06.355|
|21.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||1 lap behind|
|22.||Jack Le Brocq||TEKNO Autosports||1 lap behind|
|23.||Tim Blanchard||CoolDrive Racing||7 laps behind|
|24.||Lee Holdsworth||Preston Hire Racing||8 laps behind|
|25.||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Motorsport||17 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Reason|
|DNF.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Transmission|
Image via Red Bull Holden Racing Team