A weekend off for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship didn’t stop Shane van Gisbergen and Nick Percat adding to their trophy cabinets.
Following victory at the Watpac Townsville 400, van Gisbergen teamed with Liam Talbot to win the second round of the Australian Endurance Championship at the Bend Motorsport Park.
It was a first-up win for the Kiwi aboard a Lamborghini Huracan, having done the bulk of his GT3 racing in recent years aboard Mercedes and McLaren equipment.
Strategy was key in the three-hour contest, with van Gisbergen running sixth when diving into the pits for the car’s third and final stop in anticipation of a Safety Car 73 minutes from home.
Although dropping the Lamborghini a lap down, van Gisbergen led by over 30 seconds once the remainder of the field pitted after the restart, controlling the pace to the finish.
“That’s another team win,” said van Gisbergen.
"I saw the car [KTM GT4] stopped and knew it was going to be a Safety Car and the team did a good job, [they] quickly knew we could get to the end and just manage the lead.
“Liam did an awesome job at the start, it was really tricky when it rained. It was an awesome weekend, thanks to Trofeo Motorsport for having me.”
Van Gisbergen’s Supercars co-driver Garth Tander finished second in the GT event aboard an Audi alongside Geoff Emery, extending their lead in the standings.
Jamie Whincup was fifth in the Mercedes he shared with Yasser Shahin after losing time with a fuel miscalculation ahead of their final pitstop.
The seven-time Supercars champion took the lead on the Safety Car restart and reset the lap record as he built a margin, before limping to the pits out of fuel.
Andre Heimgartner meanwhile endured a short weekend at The Bend, bowing out of the TCR Australia meeting due to an engine failure for the Kelly Racing Subaru during the opening race.
Percat an open-wheel winner
Nick Percat’s return to open-wheel racing at Barbagallo proved clinical, dominating the Formula 1000 races at the state-level meeting.
The South Australian swept to pole position, all three race wins and a new lap record, managing nearly six tenths under the previous benchmark with a 53.079s.
"It was awesome fun. It took a few laps to get the driving style sorted again and remember how I used to do it 10 years ago,” said Percat.
“They are awesome cars to drive, and the field is very competitive because the regulars cut hundreds of laps of that track. So there are some pretty speedy dudes, it was a real challenge.
"I was a little surprised to be as competitive as I was," he added.
“I wasn't sure where I'd stack up, because it takes a lot of time to get out of habits like where I position the car and braked and things like that.
“And being a short lap, if you're off it a little bit you're not fast.”
Percat, who undertook a driver training day in a Radical sportscar with Arise at Barbagallo earlier this year, feels driving different cars during the year is important.
"I'm all about learning more and keeping the brain active, because you can get stuck in a routine in Supercars with the way you go about it and think about it," he said.
“That's why I keep doing other things. Turn 4 at Wanneroo in that car, there was no brake, and the mid-corner speed was 20 km/h up on the Supercar.
“So to turn in at full throttle, roll off for about 15 metres, and be straight back to 100 percent throttle, that took a couple of laps to build up too.
“The braking markers were 50 or 100 metres later, depending on the corner.”