Brown takes points lead with Townsville win

08 Jul
Kostecki dramas change championship picture

Will Brown has taken the Supercars championship lead with a controlled drive to victory in am intriguing NTI Townsville 500 opener.

Brown capitalised on mechanical issues for erstwhile points leader and Erebus Motorsport teammate Brodie Kostecki to take the orange numbers.

The Queenslander led home Chevrolet rival Broc Feeney ahead of a charging Chaz Mostert, who made work a three-stop strategy to finish third.

Walkinshaw Andretti United Ford star Mostert pulled off a three-stop strategy to score his first podium since Newcastle in March.

Shane van Gisbergen passed Cam Waters late on, with the old rivals completing the top five ahead of Scott Pye, Andre Heimgartner, Bryce Fullwood, James Courtney and Will Davison.

Kostecki was 19th, 37.6s from the race win, with his 59-point lead now a 43-point deficit. Feeney is 44 points down in third, with van Gisbergen fourth, 81 points down. Mostert, despite having three podiums in 16 starts, is 141 points from the championship lead.

"88 laps around here is a long time, but felt good in there, the car was mega quick on old tyres," Brown said.

"I knew in that first stint, I had really good tyre life and used that to my advantage.

"It's pretty awesome to be nearly halfway through the season and have orange numbers on tomorrow."

Van Gisbergen rounded up Waters and Reynolds off the line, and tried to put a move onto a defensive Brown into Turn 2. The two Camaros ran long, opening the door for Waters, Feeney and Mostert to jump ahead.

Later around the lap, van Gisbergen made contact with Le Brocq at Turn 8, and both drivers dropped down the field.

After lap 1, Waters led Feeney, Brown, Mostert, Reynolds and Payne, with van Gisbergen down in 12th. By lap 8, Waters led by 1.2s over Feeney, who quickly fell into the clutches of Brown, who made a pass stick at Turn 11 on lap 16.

It was a different story down the order, with Winterbottom sending Percat into a spin at Turn 2. Winterbottom was handed a 15-second penalty, with Percat losing 10 laps in the pits.

Mostert completed a short stop from fourth on lap 21; all the while, Brown caught and cleared Waters through Turns 10 and 11 on lap 23. As Brown powered into a six-second lead, teammate Kostecki reported a transaxle issue as he continued to charge from 15th on the grid.

Brown and Waters stopped on lap 30, and were split by Feeney on rejoin, with the short-fuelled Mostert 15 seconds up the road on the #9.

Kostecki stopped on lap 32 behind Fullwood, with the points leader emerging 20th after a longer stop. Mostert assumed the lead — by 19 seconds — once van Gisbergen stopped from the race lead on lap 34, with the latter emerging 11th behind Heimgartner.


At lap 35, Mostert pushed to open up a gap on Brown, with Feeney 1.2s behind. De Pasquale, who was first to stop, was fourth ahead of Reynolds, Payne and Waters.

Reynolds cleared De Pasquale and Feeney in quick time, and set off after Brown. All the while, Mostert began dropping time — in a handful of laps, his margin dropped from 19 to 14 seconds.

WAU pulled the pin and brought Mostert in on lap 42, with De Pasquale behind losing a lap in the lane due to a refuelling issue.

De Pasquale, on new tyres, cleared Waters despite being a lap down, with the Monster Ford quickly passed by van Gisbergen and Heimgartner. However, De Pasquale began stopping around the circuit, first at pit entry, before pulling into the garage with an electrical issue.

Brown weathered the Reynolds storm and drove away from the #26 Penrite Ford, which was nearly four seconds ahead of Feeney, who in turn was four seconds ahead of Payne.

Payne was dropped down the order by a charging Heimgartner, van Gisbergen and Waters, with the #8 R&J Batteries Camaro — which started 17th — suddenly a factor at the front.

Reynolds, Heimgartner and Pye made their second stops on lap 56, followed by Fullwood, Le Brocq and Slade on the next lap. Feeney and Waters stopped on lap 58, leaving Brown 16 seconds up the road on van Gisbergen.

Erebus reacted and pulled Brown in on lap 59 — Payne also stopping — with van Gisbergen again inheriting the race lead, some seven seconds up the road from Mostert.

Van Gisbergen made his second stop on lap 64, with Mostert making his third stop — and Kostecki his second — on the following lap. It returned Brown to the lead by 2.4s over Feeney, with Waters 2.3s down in third.

Heimgartner was fourth, one second behind Waters, with Fullwood, Reynolds, Pye, Davison, van Gisbergen and Randle, with 11th places Mostert 20.5s from the lead. Kostecki, meanwhile, was 22nd.

The race turned on its head when Hazelwood pulled over between Turns 2 and 3 with sparks emanating from his CoolDrive Ford’s exhaust, triggering the bp Ultimate Safety Car.

Brown led the compressed field to green on lap 73, with Mostert pulling off a bold move on van Gisbergen at Turn 3. At Turn 11, Mostert and van Gisbergen both pounced on Reynolds, who had been picked off by Pye.

Reynolds tumbled down the field on aged tyres and was down to 21st — and last of the lead lap runners — in a heartbeat. All the while, Mostert passed Fullwood, Pye and Heimgartner, and set off after the podium.

Mostert pounced on Waters for third at Turn 3 on lap 11, and set off after Feeney, with Brown driving away into the sunset. Behind them, van Gisbergen put a robust move on Waters at Turn 11 on lap 88.

It was academic for Brown, however, who scored his fourth win of the season, his first in Townsville, by 3.3s.

Supercars will return to the track for ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 10:00am AEST on Sunday, ahead of the Shootout at 12:00pm. The NTI Townsville 500 will conclude at 2:40pm with the final 88-lap race of the weekend, Race 17.

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