Jamie Whincup has claimed pole position for Sunday’s Penrite Oil Sandown 500 by winning a dramatic primary drivers sprint race – the second 60-kilometre race of the day – and taken over the lead of the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
The Red Bull Holden Racing driver avoided a chaotic collision that ended his teammate Shane van Gisbergen’s race before it had begun.
The rain lashed down on Sandown Raceway just before the start, with the field evenly split between starting on the Dunlop Slick or Wet tyres.
Starting on the wet tyres, Whincup had a perfect start off the line similar to that of his co-driver Craig Lowndes in the earlier co-driver sprint race to claim the lead.
As the field negotiated, contact between Erebus Motorsport’s Anton de Pasquale and van Gisbergen sent them both spinning off-track at Turn 1. The drama ensued when Scott McLaughlin and van Gisbergen pushed down the inside in the battle for second heading into Turn 1 and as van Gisbergen locked up, he slid into the side of de Pasquale as he turned for the apex.
De Pasquale and Van Gisbergen continued, the latter’s Holden Commodore sustained terminal damage, forcing the Kiwi to retire the car.
As a result of the incident, Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird issued de Pasquale with a drive-through penalty, relegating the youngster from fifteenth place to the back of the field. It was a penalty that few, including van Gisbergen, felt was justified.
Van Gisbergen took full responsibility for the incident which later led to Baird admitting that he and the stewards had made a mistake handing de Pasquale a penalty.
“I was gutted mate, I stuffed this up royally,” van Gisbergen said after retiring his car, which will him start Sunday’s Sandown 500 feature race from last place.
“I’ve just heard they gave Anton a drive penalty. [The collision] was 100% on me, clear as day, I blocked Scotty. I feel so bad for those guys [Erebus Motorsport], they were on for a good result and I’m sorry for ruining that. I don’t know what they are doing giving him a penalty.”
Meanwhile out in front Whincup pushed ahead, extending his lead to Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing) by over seven seconds at the halfway point of the 20-lap race. Heimgartner would go on to hold second place to the chequered flag, securing a career-best finish and Kelly Racing’s second podium finish of the season as it gets set to farewell the Nissan Altima.
Making a charge at the business end of the race was de Pasquale’s teammate David Reynolds, who had passed the Tickford Racing Mustang of Lee Holdsworth for fourth at the beginning of the second lap, and was closing on championship leader McLaughlin as the laps counted down.
McLaughlin was struggling with over-pressured and overheating tyres, and in the final laps he fell victim to Reynolds on Lap 17, with Will Davison (23Red Racing) also pushing his way past.
McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard sat dutifully in sixth, playing a rear-gunner role against a fast-closing Holdsworth to help McLaughlin maximise his championship points haul. With van Gisbergen failing to finish, McLaughlin extended his Drivers’ Championship lead to 500 points. With 250 points up for grabs in Sunday’s race and a further 300 points on offer at the season-ending Newcastle 500 round in a fortnight’s time, McLaughlin can secure back-to-back titles by simply finishing tomorrow’s race.
Reynolds came to within 2.3 seconds of Heimgartner at the flag, but had to settle for third place to atone for the penalty handed down to teammate de Pasquale.
The eleven drivers who started on slick tyres didn’t net a profit, all finishing behind the thirteen cars who opted for wet tyres at the start of the race.
Among those who did profit from a wet tyre strategy was Brodie Kostecki (Kostecki Brothers Racing), who climbed thirteen positions to a superb eighth after starting from 21st on the grid.
Chaz Mostert (Tickford Racing) was another who benefited from the wet tyre call. He charged through the field to finish ninth and made up 16 places after starting from the back of the grid due to co-driver James Moffat’s unfortunate end to Race 28. The Supercheap Auto Mustang was ahead of James Courtney (Wilkinshaw Andretti Racing) in tenth.
Sunday’s 161-lap feature race begins at 13:25 local time (GMT +11) with a 20-minute warm up from 10:00.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship Penrite Oils Sandown 500 – Race 29 Final Classification (20 laps)|
|1.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing||25:47.279|
|2.||Andre Heimgartner||Plus Fitness Racing||+ 7.380|
|3.||David Reynolds||Penrite Racing||+ 9.634|
|4.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 9.732|
|5.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 14.118|
|6.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 14.227|
|7.||Lee Holdsworth||The Bottle-O Racing||+ 14.906|
|8.||Brodie Kostecki||Boost Mobile Kostecki Brothers||+ 15528|
|9.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing||+ 15.640|
|10.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 Racing||+ 20.030|
|11.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||+ 25.815|
|12.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 29.445|
|13.||Anton de Pasquale||Penrite Racing||+ 52.046|
|14.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing Team||+ 1:06.346|
|15.||Mark Winterbottom||Irwin Racing||+ 1:12.870|
|16.||James Golding||Boost Mobile Racing||+ 1:13.242|
|17.||Rick Kelly||Castrol Racing||1 lap behind|
|18.||Nick Percat||Fujitsu Racing||1 lap behind|
|19.||Richie Stanaway||Boost Mobile Racing||1 lap behind|
|20.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||1 lap behind|
|21.||Macauley Jones||Team CoolDrive||1 lap behind|
|22.||Garry Jacobson||RABBLE.club Racing||1 lap behind|
|23.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 Racing||1 lap behind|
|24.||Jack Le Brocq||Truck Assist TEKNO Racing||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing||Collision|
- To be advised
Additional contribution by Charlie Bullis.
Image via Red Bull Holden Racing Team
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