SVG survives Whincup onslaught in strategy thriller

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/07/2021
  • By James Pavey

A strategy play has aided Shane van Gisbergen's charge to Race 18 victory at the WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint.

It marked van Gisbergen's 11th win of the season, and eighth at the Reid Park Street Circuit.

The series leader claimed the lead through the pit sequence over Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Jamie Whincup.

Whincup, who led from a seventh ARMOR ALL Pole in Townsville, opted for a three-tyre undercut stop, but was undone by van Gisbergen's shorter two-tyre stop.

A vigorous battle between the teammates followed, before Whincup backed off and held station to the end.

Whincup won the start and led through the Turn 1 sweeper.

The field clearly navigated Turn 2, but the same couldn’t be said for Turn 3, with Nick Percat tipped into a spin by Fabian Coulthard.

The bunched pack, unlike in the Dunlop Super2 Series race on Saturday, managed to avoid Percat, who was relegated to last position.

The pole-sitter had the better of van Gisbergen in the opening stint; Whincup had eked out a 1.9s margin after four laps.

Like he did on Saturday, Tim Slade played the strategy game and stopped at the end of lap 5.

De Pasquale, who was up to effective 10th after qualifying 14th, was brought in on the following lap, and set about maximising the undercut.

The Red Bull Ampol duo began to pull away from Mostert, who was 2.9s from the rear of van Gisbergen on lap 8.

On the following lap, Macauley Jones suffered a heavy lock-up into Turn 3 and rejoined behind the leading teammates.

Race 17 winner Cameron Waters, who dropped three positions off the start, pitted on lap 11 and rejoined behind De Pasquale and Will Brown.

The margin between Whincup and van Gisbergen plateaued at 1.5s as Mostert continued to fall behind, with the gap between second and third 7.2s by lap 15.

The margin between the leaders dramatically narrowed to 0.4s on the following lap, with Whincup pitting on the following lap.

Whincup took on three tyres and returned with clean air; van Gisbergen stopped on the following lap and took on two tyres.

The strategy play enabled van Gisbergen to claim the effective lead, but Whincup was unwilling to let his teammate get away.

Whincup shadowed van Gisbergen and had a run into the final corner on lap 21, only for the leader to block.

On lap 24, Whincup tried again, but van Gisbergen again resisted the overtake attempt.

The teammates ran line astern through Turn 1, and van Gisbergen retained the lead with the ideal line through Turn 2.

The squabble allowed Mostert to close to within four seconds of Whincup, who after a valiant attack, began to fall away from van Gisbergen.

De Pasquale began to feel the pinch of his early stop, and was demoted by Brodie Kostecki at Turn 2 on lap 26.

By lap 31, De Pasquale had dropped to eighth behind Todd Hazelwood and Scott Pye.

Hazelwood then cleared Saturday nemesis Kostecki at the final corner and held fifth with six laps remaining, having started 10th.

Behind them, Waters, David Reynolds and Bryce Fullwood engaged in a spirited battle fo ninth, which after a three-wide run through Turn 1, fell into Reynolds’s lap after a Turn 11 error by Waters.

All the while, van Gisbergen continued to march away to win No. 11 of the season, with Whincup over two seconds adrift, having flown the white flag.

By race's end, the margin between the two had blown out, with van Gisbergen taking the chequered flag 4.54s seconds ahead.

Mostert defied a late charge by Will Davison to cling onto third.

The WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint will conclude with Race 19 at 3:40pm AEST.

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