Winners and losers: Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint
Repco Supercars Championship
By James Pavey
The return to racing in Victoria saw some leave with smiles and silverware, and others wondering what could have been.
The Penrite Oil Sandown SuperSprint was dominated by Shane van Gisbergen, with five different drivers featuring on the three races’ podiums.
WATCH: INCREDIBLE PASSES AT SANDOWN
Supercars.com has picked out the teams and drivers which enjoyed their returns to Sandown, and those who were left ready to make amends at Symmons Plains next month.
Red Bull Ampol Racing
Three races, three wins and two poles for Shane van Gisbergen, and two podiums for Jamie Whincup. Sandown has always been a strong venue for Triple Eight cars, and it was no different in 2021.
Despite nursing a busted collarbone, van Gisbergen was a cut above, while Whincup made a triumphant return to form to rise to second in the standings.
Heading to Tasmania, Red Bull Ampol Racing is a full round ahead of its closest rival in the teams’ standings.
Many doubted Erebus Motorsport’s gamble to give two rookies full-time drives in 2021. On Sunday, both young guns proved the team made the right choice.
Brodie Kostecki clinched a maiden podium in the sodden Race 5, with Will Brown vaulting from 19th to seventh.
It came after Kostecki suffered issues in both Saturday morning practice sessions, with Brown steering the team’s chassis following his Bathurst accident.
Kelly Grove Racing
Both Kelly Grove Racing Mustangs were on the pace all weekend, with Andre Heimgartner just missing out on the podium in Race 4.
Race 5 was David Reynolds’ 350th start, and the veteran christened the result with a brilliant drive to the podium.
It marked Reynolds’ first podium since 2019, and the first for the team under its new Kelly Grove Racing guise.
He didn’t get the win he so sorely wanted, but Cameron Waters scored two podiums and kept within reach of the runaway van Gisbergen in the title fight.
Waters was the lucky driver to bring up the Mustang’s 100th podium, and ended the weekend with sixth in Race 5.
To Tasmania, Waters is 170 points down on van Gisbergen, but proved he is in the ‘best of the rest’ grouping.
The Brad Jones Racing driver left the Bathurst season-opener 14th in the standings, having toiled through a weekend of poor pace and reliability dramas.
Come Sandown, and Percat was a new man, scoring three top 10 finishes and rising to eighth in the standings.
The 2011 Bathurst winner’s finishes of seventh, sixth and ninth were all improvements on his qualifying efforts, proving BJR has made gains following his Bathurst hiccups.
Victorian race fans
Victorian fans had been starved of Supercars racing action since November 2019, and Sandown’s return was a happy welcome.
Despite the rain on Sunday, fans turned out to support the event, and were rewarded with three brilliant races, signalling a triumphant Victorian comeback after a trying 2020.
Shell V-Power Racing Team
Sandown has traditionally been a weak circuit for the Shell V-Power Racing Team, with Dick Johnson Racing’s last win at the venue coming in 2010.
Anton De Pasquale suffered an engine issue in Race 4, making it two DNFs in five starts for the 25-year-old.
Will Davison impressed to fifth after an early-race spin in Race 5, with his Race 3 performance scuppered following contact with Percat.
Both drivers admitted their disappointment after the podium-less weekend, and Scott McLaughlin is firmly in their corner. Expect the Shell Mustangs to bounce back in Tasmania.
Walkinshaw Andretti United
Chaz Mostert scored a brilliant pole on Saturday, and missed out on a podium in the race after an early stop left him vulnerable to those behind.
A throttle issue on Sunday saw him drop even more points to van Gisbergen, with Mostert ceding 130 points to the Kiwi across the weekend.
It was also a bruising weekend for Bryce Fullwood, who was fed into the Turn 4 barriers early in Race 3. Fullwood dropped out of the top 10 in the standings, having wildly impressed at the Bathurst season-opener.
The #18 IRWIN Racing Commodore nearly led into Turn 1 in Race 3, with Winterbottom in contention for the podium all afternoon.
However, a frustrating Sunday saw the 2015 champion drop from third to fifth in the standings, featuring by an early off in Race 4 following a brilliant start.
The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to Symmons Plains for the Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint across April 10-11. Tickets are on sale now.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo.