Asked after the race if he had the title fight on his mind, van Gisbergen was adamant he was going into every race to win, rather than protect his points lead.
“Does it look like I’m thinking about the championship?” he laughed.
“I’m trying to win every race.
“There’s a long way to go, and the lead’s nowhere near 300 points I don’t think, and Bathurst is worth that.
“I’m not thinking about it at all, I’m just trying to win every race.”
Never one to shy away from a battle, van Gisbergen has taken several risks en route to building a sizeable points lead.
Notably, he put everything on the line to win the Sandown opener from 17th, avoided the Race 10 first-lap chaos at The Bend after starting 13th, made a bold pass on Anton De Pasquale in the Darwin opener, and defeated Whincup twice on track in the first Townsville event.
It was poor timing with the mid-race Safety Car deployment in Sunday’s finale, however, which brought him undone after passing Waters for the lead on lap 5.
The complexion of the race changed when the Safety Car was deployed following a lap 18 accident for Macauley Jones.
At the time, van Gisbergen led Waters by 1.6s, and immediately dived into the lane for complete his compulsory stop.
Waters, Todd Hazelwood and Nick Percat stayed out, and managed to beat the Safety Car itself to the timing line.
The Tickford Racing driver was able to complete another lap at full speed before taking his stop and grabbed the lead back.
Will Davison split Waters and van Gisbergen due to his shorter stop on lap 13.
“The Safety Car was a bit gutting,” van Gisbergen said.
“I came around [Turn] 11 and saw the guy with the board start to come out.
“I ducked in, which is normally the right thing to do.
“And as I come out onto the front straight, he’s sitting there with the yellow lights on in the middle of Turn 1, which is incorrect.
“That was a little bit of a shame, but we wouldn’t have had the battle if that didn’t happen.”
It set up a grandstand finish between Waters and van Gisbergen, who after clearing Davison, tried to no avail to displace the #6 Monster Energy Mustang.
Waters clung to the lead by his fingertips, and denied van Gisbergen win No. 12 of 2021 by just 0.8s.