'Nobody punching on' after brilliant Sandown scrap

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 20/03/2021
  • By James Pavey

For some, it was the race of a lifetime. For others, it was a moment to feel defeated.

For all in the Sandown grandstand on the iconic circuit’s pit straight, it was an unforgettable day of close, respectful racing.

What transpired in Race 3 at the Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint defied all headlines leading into the event.

WATCH: PENULTIMATE LAP THRILLER

Shane van Gisbergen won from 17th on the grid, which marked a new ATCC/Supercars record for sprint races at Sandown.

It came despite the Kiwi having broken his collarbone two weeks ago, with van Gisbergen requiring around-the-clock intervention from his team’s physio.

At the other end of the spectrum was Chaz Mostert, who after starting from pole and leading late on, was consigned to sixth.

WATCH: RACE 3 RECAP

Speaking after the race, Mostert cut a broken figure after again falling short of his maiden win for Walkinshaw Andretti United.

"Obviously [went] the wrong way today," said Mostert, who dropped to fourth off the start and was pitted on lap 8.

"Just disappointed. To start off pole and go back to finish sixth and struggling at the end with nothing to fight for, I feel a bit defeated today.

“We probably read it a little bit wrong. We thought people would dive in early and we were about the only one early, so obviously everyone read the other book.

Mostert leads late on

"It’s the way the game is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Today, it just didn’t work out for us.”

For van Gisbergen, a strong fight through the field and a clever strategy was key to a 43rd career win.

However, he still needed to get the job done, but pitting on the 25th lap of the 36-lap race paved the way to his brilliant charge.

"I had a good first lap, saved the tyres and then started picking guys off,” said van Gisbergen, who extended his championship lead to 60 points over Mostert.

"Everyone ran a bit longer than I thought, but [the overcut] still worked for us.

WATCH: WHINCUP'S HIGH PRAISE FOR SVG

"I had a terrible out-lap, I got caught up with James [Courtney] and then I had a lot of understeer. But after three laps, it came good.”

Another key to van Gisbergen’s victory was his bold move over Mostert and teammate Jamie Whincup at Turn 2 after Cameron Waters forced a bottleneck behind.

"I saw Chaz was struggling and I hoped he would back everyone up, and he did,” van Gisbergen said.

"It was a bit of a risky move at Turn 2, but that's probably what won the race.

"It's probably not smart to make it three-wide, but being on the inside is the safest place and it worked quite well.”

Even engineer David Cauchi couldn't believe his driver's efforts

Whincup added: "It was quite eventful from where I was sitting. We passed a few cars and we got passed by some cars as well.

"We were following Cam on the same tyre strategy. I had a few goes, we sort of tripped over each other a little bit.

"Chazzie did great job, he was hanging in there on those very old tyres for lap after lap.

"And then SVG had great pace and that big lunge down into [Turn] 2.

"It was good that nobody shunted, nobody is punching on back in the pits. We all raced hard, it was all pretty gnarly, and we all got through unscathed."

Waters may have lost the win at the beginning of the final lap, but praised van Gisbergen’s fighting spirit.

It was a very popular Race 3 podium

However, he admitted he should have cleared Mostert sooner, which allowed van Gisbergen into the fight.

”Every time I got close to Chazzie, J-Dub decided he wanted to have a crack at me,” the Tickford Racing driver said.

"Those four laps are what got Shane back in the race.

"We had so much fun; massive kudos to Shane for what he's achieved with his shoulder. Massive respect.

"He deserved that race. He did everything he needed to do.”

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return for ARMOR All Qualifying for Race 4 on Sunday at 10:30am. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo. Check out the full weekend schedule here.

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