Anton De Pasquale’s Penrite Holden copped ‘a bit of bruising’ in an early pitlane incident at Hidden Valley, but it wasn’t enough to deny the youngster a maiden Supercars win.
De Pasquale became Supercars' second new winner in as many races, as the category’s mixed tyre format continued to spice up the action in the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown opener.
The Penrite team went all-in for the win by running soft tyres in both stints on the #99 entry, opting for a second dose of the quicker rubber when the field pitted under an early Safety Car.
With the pitlane congested, De Pasquale had to squeeze between a double-stacking Fabian Coulthard and the pitlane’s armco barrier in order to rejoin from his pitbay.
Just after he did so, he was hit side-on by Jamie Whincup, which pushed De Pasquale’s Commodore up against the barrier.
Whincup received a 15-second time penalty for an unsafe pit release, while De Pasquale controlled the remainder of the race – including a second restart - to take the win.
“I was a little trapped to get out of my pitbox and then Fabs was in behind Scotty, so I had to rub up against him to get past,” De Pasquale explained of the tight pitlane moment.
“Then Jamie came across and pushed me into the armco. I didn’t want to hit him too hard because I had a race to race, so I was up on the armco and kind of wall-grinded that a bit.
“I had to get through because I was in a position where I had to win that race to make the strategy worth it. There was a bit of bruising on the car, but it was all worth it.”
Asked whether the damage could have cost him the race, he added: “Things are bent, for sure.
“There was a bit going on at the front but these Supercars are pretty strong and we’ve done a lot of work on the front of ours to make them strong.
“A little bit of left-hand down or a little bit of right-hand down [on the steering] you can deal with. I had a bit going on, but it was ok.”
De Pasquale’s Saturday tyre strategy means he faces a tough task to be competitive tomorrow, as the majority of the field still have new soft tyres to play with.
Although brushing away any suggestion that the tyre situation takes the shine off his win, De Pasquale displayed little emotion in the aftermath of the maiden triumph.
“We still have to come back and race tomorrow, so straightaway you’re still thinking about tomorrow and how that’s going to pan out,” he said.
“But it’s good. You put a lot of effort into it, a lot of time, the team, myself, everybody, so to get the result and the first win is awesome.
“I’ve never been a big ‘camera on me’ celebration kind of guy, I’ve always been that way, I just focus on the next thing,” he added.
“A lot of that gets taken away because you haven’t got a podium [due to COVID-19 related protocols], you haven’t got champagne to spray around, you lose a bit of that.
“But I’m sure we’ll aim for one of those in the future.”