Shane van Gisbergen has won today’s 200km race in Townsville ahead of a charging James Courtney, taking his third victory of the year.
A late Safety Car on lap 62 of 70 saw the HRT #22 and a number of cars pit for fresh rubber, and after re-joining ninth, Courtney sped to the finish to steal second position from Mark Winterbottom by three-hundredths of a second.
The front-runners elected not to pit, which created an electric finish at the street circuit as some pushed forward and others hung on.
Van Gisbergen’s result means he is the first driver to win three races this year, and cements him in second in the championship behind teammate Jamie Whincup.
“I was a bit worried after the Safety Car but had heaps of grip – I’m so stoked,” van Gisbergen said.
The Holden Racing Team was the surprise package of the race, Courtney leaving nothing on the table as he accelerated to the finish, to end the race 1.2583sec behind van Gisbergen.
“It’s four years in a row we’ve been second on Sunday here – the guys did an amazing job in the stops, there was quite a bit of damage on the first lap, we stopped early,” Courtney said.
“It was a really good call with strategy at the end … it was a good little race with Mark at the end there and Holden power won out.”
A stop could have saved van Gisbergen’s race too, after an early lock up caused a flat spot and affected his Red Bull Commodore. The team elected to switch strategies with Jamie Whincup, who played an unusual strategy but benefitted from an early safety car to finish fourth and hold the Championship lead.
The safety car was triggered by debutant Kurt Kostecki –18-year old racer broke the suspension in his Commodore and hit the wall.
Craig Lowndes struggled with tyres and was the first to come in for fresh rubber under green conditions – he finished 10th.
David Reynolds starred early but was swamped by others on fresh tyres to finish 14th.