Van Gisbergen, Whincup reflect on 'tense' Race 18 battle

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

Shane van Gisbergen has labelled his Townsville battle with teammate Jamie Whincup as "awesome" following an absorbing Race 18.

Van Gisbergen picked up his 11th win of the season, having jumped Whincup through the pit cycle.

A lap after leader Whincup stopped for three tyres, van Gisbergen took on two tyres and emerged in the effective lead.

The Red Bull Ampol Racing duo were joined at the hip, with Whincup desperately trying to win back the lead.

Try as he might, Whincup's attack was dimmed by the robust defence of van Gisbergen, who extended his series lead to 252 points.

“It was awesome,” van Gisbergen said of the battle.

“We chose to take two tyres to try and get in front, and all I had to do was keep him behind for four laps until he toasted his fresh ones, and pulled away.

“It was a pretty cool battle, pretty tense. I’m sure there were some tight moments in the garage.

“But it was good fun.”

Van Gisbergen had the better of Whincup in last weekend's 250km races at Reid Park, both races featuring on-track passes for victory.

On Sunday, the race was won in the lane, with van Gisbergen enjoying a tyre advantage for the afternoon's second race.

“We’ve got two or three for the next one, we can try some stuff,” he said.

“We’re around a whole bunch of different guys, and I’m sure the racing will be different.

“I can’t wait.”

Whincup admitted he pushed hard in the opening stint to build a gap to the challengers behind, and revealed his car had a vibration before his lap 16 stop.

“I guess the whole pit lane wants us to have a blue,” the 38-year-old joked.

“It’s not going to happen, great team points for both cars.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if something in my car was bent, I really struggled to brake probably about four laps before the stop.

“I was really struggling, and I had quite a bad vibration. But SVG made it pretty hard.

“I did what I could at the start, I tried to gap away from everyone to minimise the stacking risk for both cars, and tried to give us both an advantage before the stop.

“But I probably burnt myself trying to play the team game.”

While disappointed to miss out on a 13th Townsville win, Whincup was pleased to seal a third Triple Eight one-two in four starts, and hailed van Gisbergen as the better driver.

“I’ve always said that I want… the fastest car-driver combination to win the race,” he said.

“They’ve got a little bit of pace on us last weekend and this weekend. That’s why they’re on the top step of the podium.

“It’s up to the rest of the field to step it up and go faster.”

Race 19, which will commence at 3:40pm AEST, will conclude the WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint.

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