Van Gisbergen/Tander lead Bathurst at halfway

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 18/10/2020
  • By Connor O'Brien

Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander lead at the halfway point of what has been a mixed Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.

The duo moved to the front on lap 56 of 161 when rain fell, spicing up a Safety Car restart.

Van Gisbergen was at the wheel at that point, moving by Scott McLaughlin and then Will Davison for the race lead.

The #97 Commodore held a six-second lead after 81 of 161 laps, with Tander hopping in during the fourth cycle of pitstops recently made.

It gives the Holden factory squad a prime shot at victory with its only car left in the race after Jamie Whincup crashed out.

McLaughlin’s co-driver Tim Slade is second, the duo gained ground in the pits after losing positions when the conditions were at their slipperiest.

All but Dylan O’Keeffe and Chris Pither had stayed out on slicks.

Davison – who was beaten to the first corner by fellow front-row starter McLaughlin – is a solid third, ensuring polesitter Cameron Waters will be in a strong position for the run to the chequered flag.

Fabian Coulthard/Tony D’Alberto and Chaz Mostert/Warren Luff round out the top five, with Mark Winterbottom/James Golding the biggest movers in sixth after starting 18th.

Each of the top 10 cars currently are being steered by their designated co-driver as the main stars gear up for the home stretch.

Anton De Pasquale is the leading primary driver in 11th, having lost ground in the pits with a slow brake rotor change.

It’s not certain if rain will play a role in the second half of the 1000, with much of the predicted downpour arriving overnight.

It took just 33 laps for the Mountain to claim a high-profile scalp, Whincup crashing out at The Cutting while trying to pass a feisty Brodie Kostecki.

Whincup had tried to force his way by at The Chase the previous lap, and was left to rue not being more patient.

“Obviously Brodie was making it pretty difficult out there – that’s not his fault, he’s entitled to go as hard as he can and was doing nothing untoward,” said Whincup, who was looking for his fourth Bathurst triumph together with Craig Lowndes.

“In hindsight I should have just waited another lap, I probably would have got him back down Conrod on the next lap. I’m disappointed for everyone.”

The incident triggered the first Safety Car, with the entire field taking the opportunity to bowl into pitlane.

With it came a change for the lead as Tickford got Waters out in front of Slade.

From the lap 36 restart, Waters set about opening up a seven-second buffer until the Safety Car was called for a second appearance on lap 51.

This time the catalyst was a mistake from Brad Jones Racing rookie Jordan Boys, losing control on the exit of Murray’s Corner and finding the pit wall.

With significant damage, Boys was left to park the Todd Hazelwood-led Holden at the run-off of Hell Corner.

Among others to fall out of contention were the Holdens of Nick Percat/Thomas Randle (engine) Garry Jacobson/David Russell (engine) and Bryce Fullwood/Kurt Kostecki (power steering).  

Jacobson was left to hold back tears in a broadcast interview, with the 28-year-old one of many drivers with a question mark over 2021 plans.

Earlier, the #15 Castrol Mustang of Rick Kelly/Dale Wood had lost massive time with a clutch issue.

“It’s heartbreaking for the guys to have that happen at the start,” said Kelly Racing boss Todd Kelly, with Wood eventually returning to the track 17 laps down.

“I hate to say it but they just need to go out and have a good time. That’s pretty much all we can do now.”

All up, 18 cars are still on the lead lap.

Macauley Jones and Tim Blanchard are up in 14th, recovering after dropping a lap early when the Team CoolDrive car’s side door flung open at the start of the race.

A 15-second penalty followed for not immediately pitting after being shown a mechanical black flag.

The only other penalty to date has been a 15-second sanction for Alex Davison/Jonathon Webb spinning wheels in the pits.

Timing order at halfway

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