03 Mar 2018
SHANE VAN GISBERGEN has clinched another race victory at the Adelaide 500 after combining sheer pace with a smart strategy to come out in front of James Courtney and Scott McLaughlin after the second round of pit stops on Saturday afternoon.
By Matthew Agius
It capped a masterful day from the Kiwi, who endured a stewards investigation for exceeding the track limits after posting the fastest lap in the Top 10 Shootout.
His pole was confirmed less than an hour before race start, and while he surrended the lead to McLaughlin (Shell V-Power Racing Team) and Courtney (Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing) at the first term, a smart strategy and sheer race speed saw the dual Adelaide 500 winner start his championship tilt in perfect fashion.
It means the 28-year-old will start Sunday with the orange No. 97 as the championship leader, and full of momentum heading into pre-race qualifying.
A tale of two races
A frenetic race progressed cleanly for much of the day, with no noteworthy incidents for the majority of the day allowing the field to race and play the brain game with pit strategy.
That all changed on lap 53 when stewards summoned the Safety Car in order to clear loose debris that had floated up-track from the Senna Chicane towards turn 5.
That condensed the field with Van Gisbergen’s narrow lead – smartly won through a combination of race pace and a smart pit strategy – destroyed.
James Courtney was strong in the new Mobil 1 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore [pic: Adelaide 500]
The restart just two laps later signalled chaos.
Five cars were damaged in the space of one lap, with Cam Waters (Monster Energy Racing/Tickford) spun out in a Turn 9 bottleneck, although able to continue on.
The story was less pleasing for others, with Fabian Coulthard (Shell V-Power Racing Team) misjudging a pass on Richie Stanaway (Tickford) at the final turn to cause a front puncture to the Shell V-Power Ford and damage to Stanaway.
Stanaway’s day went from bad to worse just five corners later, when his Falcon tangled with fellow rookies James Golding (Wilson Security Racing GRM) and Todd Hazelwood (Bigmate Racing).
The restart on lap 59 lasted little more than a lap, when Simona de Silvestro nudged Tim Blanchard at the sweeper, forcing the latter’s CoolDrive Commodore into the wall to bring about full-course yellow once again.
But Van Gisbergen was masterful at the restart, reestablishing his lead over Courtney to two seconds, who in turn held a two second advantage to McLaughlin.
Strategy pays off despite poor start
Starting from pole, Van Gisbergen surrendered the lead to McLaughlin and Courtney into turn one, but lapped consistently quicker throughout the first stint.
While Rick Kelly’s Castrol Holden was forced into the pits to repair damaged suspension on lap one, it was the strategies of those on the lead lap that would keep the interest of onlookers.
Scott Pye and Cam Waters were the first to buy clean air with an early stop strategy, and the bulk of the field followed shortly after.
McLaughlin gambled first among the leaders when he pitted on lap nine, leaving Courtney and Van Gisbergen to argue for the lead.
Courtney followed suit shortly after with Van Gisbergen staying out till lap 24 when he dove down pitlane for a long fuel and tyre stop.
Rejoining behind teammate Jamie Whincup, the New Zealander carved through the field to win out following the second round of stops with a superior strategy.
Sunday's Race 2 commences at 3:20pm following Qualifying (9:40am) and the Top 10 Shootout (11:40am).
MORE ON ADELAIDE500.COM.AU
- Shootout: Van Gisbergen takes pole after enquiry
- Your Sunday Planner for the Adelaide 500
- Race 1: Full results