Shane van Gisbergen has become the first driver since 1994 to claim the first five races of a Supercars Championship season with a clean sweep of Sandown – a track where he had never won before.
After rising from 17th to 1st in Saturday’s race, van Gisbergen won from pole in both of Sunday’s rain-hit races, despite having surgery on a broken shoulder just two weeks ago.
Legend Mark Skaife said in Fox Sports commentary: “He has brained them this weekend… it is almost genuinely unbelievable.”
Skaife had earlier said: “It’s staggering to think we were contemplating if he would even race this week … it’s just unbelievable.”
In the second race on Sunday, 23-year-old rookie Brodie Kostecki delivered an epic performance to claim his first-ever podium.
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SUNDAY RACE TWO REPORT:
It didn’t take long for the chaos to begin, with James Courtney spinning out on the third corner of the first lap, the first of many spins and slides in a hectic race.
Then Will Davison flew across the grass and spun on the third lap and nearly cleaned up Shell V-Power Racing teammate Anton De Pasquale. But Davison managed to do a snap spin on the track while cars streamed past him.
Penrite racing’s David Reynolds snuck into second after overtaking Jamie Whincup, who was struggling in his Red Bull Ampol Racing Commodore. Whincup slipped down to fourth – from second on the grid – as young gun Brodie Kostecki charged in the rain, rising from seventh on the starting grid to third inside eight laps.
Jack Smith spun Brad Jones Racing teammate Macauley Jones on the second lap, earning himself a penalty and sending the pair down to the back of the pack.
Kostecki’s Erebus Motorsport teammate Will Brown was another shining in the wet, soaring up 12 places in the opening few laps to leap all the way to seventh – where he would finish.
Chaz Mostert lost four places on the opening lap and was stuck in traffic, and made the bold move to pit early – after just 12 laps – to get clear air – but all the way down in 19th.
But 23-year-old Kostecki was on a charge, overtaking Reynolds into second as he pulled out fastest lap after fastest lap. He was gaining almost half a second a lap on van Gisbergen, who had been comfortable in the lead from the start.
Mostert – second in the championship at that point – had a broken throttle cable and was forced to pull into the garage, a huge blow for his season ambitions.
Van Gisbergen pitted at the end of the 26th lap, sending Kostecki into the lead for the first time ever in his Supercars career in just his 11th race.
Van Gisbergen then took the fastest lap of the race in the 29th time around the Sandown course as Kostecki began to slow with the track drying.
Reynolds pitted from second on lap 32, which sent Will Brown into second – a remarkable moment for the all-new Erebus duo of Brown and Kostecki.
Brown pitted at the end of that lap, but a slow stop sent him back into sixth and he was soon overtaken by Smith.
Kostecki – the final man to pit – did so at the end of the 34th lap, waiting until the final moment.
Van Gisbergen overtook him while the youngster was in the pits, and Kostecki had a scary moment on cold tyres as he surged across the grass. But he held on for second, 14 seconds behind van Gisbergen, and comfortably ahead of David Reynolds in third.
Mark Skaife said in commentary: “What an extraordinary weekend for this young Kiwi! … (He won Bathurst 1000 2020) with one of the best drives I’ve ever seen… We all expected him to do a couple of laps on Saturday morning and then (emergency replacement) Garth Tander to get in the car.”
Van Gisbergen said: “It’s unreal. I’ve got to thank the team so much. The car’s been awesome.”
“Good to see Brodie up here, he was putting a lot of pressure on. I could see him closing the gap. Awesome race.”
Kostecki said: “Stoked to be here. I didn’t think I’d be here this early. Just hope we can carry the momentum for the rest of the year.”
“I need a beer,” he joked.
SUNDAY RACE ONE REPORT:
Ahead of the race, veteran racer David Reynolds declared: “It’s just s**t out there to be frank.” And predictions of chaos quickly came true.
It kicked off in unbelievable style as a host of drivers spun or were sent into the dirt, and forcing a safety car after just four laps.
Then there was late drama in the battle for second as Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert clashed with a handful of laps – spinning out Waters who somehow managed to cling onto second place for the second-straight race.
“That was a pretty epic race there,” Waters said.
Van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup rounded out the podium – identical to yesterday’s first race of the weekend – after claiming a couple of late positions following the Waters-Mostert clash.
Whincup overtook Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Shane van Gisbergen into the lead ahead of the first corner before running wide and across the grass soon after.
Chaz Mostert, who started from third, traded positions with that front pair in an epic battle across the opening two laps to take the lead, before being forced to cut the corner on turn 11 on the fourth lap, ploughing straight through the grass.
David Reynolds charged off the line, only to end up facing backwards after a bump with Tim Slade caused a spin on the second lap.
Macauley Jones had to park his Coca Cola Racing vehicle in the grass after turn one after suffering an oil line issue, forcing a safety car after just four laps.
Jack le Brocq also spun after contact with David Coulthard, while Mark Winterbottom – who gained five spots on the start – ran through the dirt but managed to avoid being stuck.
Van Gisbergen took the lead after the safety car restart, overtaking Mostert on the first corner who found some oil on the track. But Jamie Whincup lost plenty of ground as he ran wide on turn four, slipping from third straight down to sixth.
He fought back to fourth by overtaking Andre Heimgartner and James Courtney, and chasing third-place Cameron Waters.
At the end of the 19th lap, drivers started hitting the pits for their mandatory stop. Tim Slade and Scott Pye, down in the lower half of the field, were the first into pitlane. And with the track drying up, they went onto slick tyres.
Tickford Racing driver Waters and Heimgartner led almost half of the field into the pits at the end of lap 21, before race leaders van Gisbergen and Mostert dived into the pits the next lap.
The earlier move paid off for Waters, who managed to battle past Mostert using his warmer tyres.
Heimgartner also roared past Jamie Whincup, who had pitted later. But Will Davison was hurt the most by the choice to pit later, sliding down four places in one lap to 11th as he struggled to get his tyres up to temperature.
Anton de Pasquale in his Shell V-Power racing car had started from eighth but struggled all race with clear engine issues, his sickly-sounding car tumbling down the field and struggling for any pace. He was finally brought in to the garage after 27 laps.
Cameron Waters and Chaz Mostert (Walkinshaw Andretti United) continued to battle for second place as van Gisbergen extended his lead. Waters moved into second with six laps to go after a brief touch down the back straight.
“They’re all over the place, these two,” declared Neil Crompton in commentary.
Mostert tried to dive down the inside into turn one, but made contact and spun Waters!
Mostert was forced to pause and slowed down to avoid a penalty, but the drivers behind them capitalised.
Heimgartner moved ahead of Mostert while Jamie Whincup was close behind, while Waters managed to just avoid the chasers and held onto second.
“A friendly rivalry that sometimes crosses the line. I think it’s crossed the line there,” said Mark Skaife of the clash between Mostert and Waters.
Mostert tried to overtake Andre Heimgartner to regain fourth, but pushed Heimgartner wide on turn one and Whincup managed to overtake both to claim third.
“I had a ripper race. Probably deserved a trophy,” said Mostert, who finished fourth after starting third.
Heimgartner finished fifth, equal to his starting position.
Speaking of the long-running battle between the former teammates, Skaife said: “I thought they were going to fence each other on the main straight … doing 250km/h on the back straight and they’re playing dodgem cars!”
“It’s a saga. These two young blokes, even when they were teammates, they were clashing with each other.”
Van Gisbergen, who won the season-concluding Bathurst 1000 in 2020, has now won the first four races of this season to claim his first-ever five-win streak.
Supercars legend Mark Skaife said in commentary: “It’s staggering to think we were contemplating if he would even race this week … it’s just unbelievable.”
And speaking about the weekend overall, he said: “The racing quality has been the best I’ve seen in a long time, whether it’s wet or dry.”
Having impressively fought from 17th to win the Sandown SuperSprint opener, Shane van Gisbergen has continued his dominance to take out both pole positions on Sunday in Qualifying.
Championship leader van Gisbergen starred despite the wet conditions, albeit suffering a setback which had the flying Kiwi “panicking.”
Van Gisbergen spun out on the area between turns 3 and 4 during qualifying for race four and if he triggered a red flag it was going to be a serious problem, as it would have seen his fastest lap wiped out.
“I had a big spin but I was just panicking trying to get going to not cause the red flag and lose the best lap,” he said.
The composed van Gisbergen backed out though in what was branded a game-changing move and even the rain could not slow him down from sealing pole position.
The Red Bull Ampol star – racing despite surgery on a broken collarbone two weeks ago – will start both of Sunday’s races from pole ahead of teammate Jamie Whincup.
Mark Dutton, his race engineer, said the superstar was coping with the pain well.
“He looked better today in my opinion than he did yesterday morning. I think because he got it out of his system, got it under his belt, he came in with a lot of confidence to get the job done.”
With wet weather, drivers hit the kerb less – which means less pressure on his damaged shoulder.
DAY ONE NEWS:
He was not the only one with issues though.
Chaos struck early with a stuck throttle sending Jake Kosteki into the dirt at Turn 1 and causing a red flag before anyone had even got a lap in.
Fox Motorsport’s Mark Larkham had big concerns over the conditions, branding the 10-minute session “the worst-possible scenario.”
“We’re going to get a first look at wet tires,” he said.
“We haven’t seen this for a long, long time. What’s really quirky is because we haven’t had a rain event for a long time, all of these tires are from the same batch and are about a year-and-a-half old. There’s a real gamble going on here.
“If this was a 30-minute session you can pick your moment to put this on, bang your lap out with a dry line but with a 10 minute session it is the worst-possible scenario for drivers. If they could make a gentlemen’s agreement up here and all go out and run together, that 650 horsepower engine, the heat that throws down onto the road would dry a line very quickly but getting drivers to agree to anything – impossible.”
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