Crompo's Corner: A stunning Sandown return

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 24/03/2021
  • By Neil Crompton

This is the second of Supercars Hall of Famer Neil Crompton's post-event columns for Supercars.com in 2021. Crompton is an esteemed commentator, broadcaster and former racer. Get some insight into the Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint from one of the most respected voices in pit lane.

What an awesome weekend at Sandown.

I've missed that place, and it was brilliant to see so many people at the event.

It’s a popular circuit, and it has a habit of generating very good action. It did that across the weekend; all three of those races were outstanding.

As a fan, for me, it was cool to hear the roar and crowd engagement from the grandstand, particularly during Saturday’s incredible race.

The place has a unique vibe, where the grandstand echoes from one end to the other.

Shane van Gisbergen’s performance, all weekend, was remarkable.

I wouldn’t have thought it would be remotely possible, and I’m sure there were plenty of doubts within the team too.

It was a masterclass from Shane, but Triple Eight have been very strong at Sandown for many years.

That side of it added up and always made sense; I fully expected that, from a team standpoint, whoever was going to be in the #97 would be in for a solid showing.

As soon as he went out in first practice on Saturday, and four laps in, he was fastest; I was blown away.

We deliberately had a look at some onboard shots, and his work rate looked identical.

His Saturday performance from 17th on the grid will go down as one of the memorable races in history.

He’s at the peak of his powers, and his team has always done well at that location, and are doing very well at the moment.

All acts you can calmly explain and rationalise, and come up with justifications.

But what’s really difficult to reconcile is how you can do it all with a broken left collarbone.

Only Shane and those closest to him, and medical staff, will know the extent of the injury, and the impact of it.

It was phenomenal. I wouldn’t like to do simple domestic chores with a collarbone that’s patched up with plates and screws, let alone wrestle a race car around such a circuit.

Even if it was the world’s best surgeon, and everything was perfect, the pain from the invasion in his body would have been immense.

To overcome all of that was very special to witness.

Looking to his rivals, it was difficult to gauge where they all are in the pecking order.

When you have one dry race, a wet-dry race and an entirely wet race, it’s difficult to draw conclusions.

If you look at the fastest laps in the Saturday race, there’s nothing in it at the top end of town.

Where the Triple Eight juggernaut and Shane are a cut above is their consistency.

There isn’t much in it between Shane, Chaz Mostert, Cameron Waters and Jamie Whincup.

Throw Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison in the mix. They’ll only improve.

Looking to Shane, everyone is flummoxed at how well he uses his tyres over the journey of a race.

We’ve seen it before how Shane can pump out fastest personal bests late in the game when you aren’t expecting a tyre to deliver such a yield.

Everyone on the #97 side of the garage is certainly working in harmony, and the results are coming.

It was fantastic to see Brodie Kostecki on the podium on Sunday. He’s a racer’s racer, and he’s getting the rewards for putting in the hard yards.

We’ve seen some impressive drivers from Brodie in Super2. He’s a morning, noon and night racer. It consumes his life, and it’s paying dividends for him, which is great to see.

I get on well with David Reynolds, and it was very nice to see Kelly Grove Racing get some runs on the board.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a driver or a team, you need some occasional sugar to deal with the excessive pains that can come from motorsport.

Todd Kelly and the Groves had a big off-season to roll out a brand new operation, and to get a trophy at just their second event, they’d be very relieved.

Dave’s an important personality to have shining. He brings so much to our category.

It was a rewarding weekend for all, especially Victorian race fans.

Compared to the dim, dark moments of 2020, it was a great reminder of how good our category is. I’m already counting down the days to Tasmania.

Crompton will return behind the microphone at Symmons Plains for the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint across April 10-11. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo.

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