Young guns impress in brutal season opener

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 28/02/2021
  • By James Pavey

While the first race of the new season belonged to Shane van Gisbergen and Red Bull Ampol Racing, several young drivers stood tall amid the chaotic 40-lapper.

Van Gisbergen's win and Tim Slade's horror crash stole the headlines on Saturday, but the race featured several key storylines, such as Anton De Pasquale's early accident and Mark Winterbottom's strong run to fourth.

Through the chaos, several youngsters recorded significant rises up the grid, with Matt Stone Racing's Jake Kostecki, the youngest driver on the grid, making the biggest leap of all.

The 21-year-old zoomed from 23rd on the grid to clinch 13th, marking his best solo race result to date.

Teammate Zane Goddard also impressed, with the 21-year-old rising six places from 18th to 12th.

One of the stars of the race was Bryce Fullwood, who pieced together one of his finest performances in his young main game career.

The 2019 Super2 champion finished fifth, with Fullwood running as high as second behind eventual winner van Gisbergen.

Walkinshaw Andretti United short-fuelled the 22-year-old, vaulting him into the front-running group following the early-race BP Ultimate Safety Car intervention.

With Chaz Mostert second, it marked the first time since Albert Park 2018 that WAU had both cars finish in the top five of the race.

"Obviously a great day for us yesterday, Chazzy has had a really fast car all weekend," Fullwood said.

"For myself, qualifying 12th, I feel we were a bit better than that.

"The track's evolving… the more cars that run on it, the grippier it gets.

"It means we have to change our car over the course of the weekend.

"We haven't really been happy with the balance of our car over the weekend, so we've been chasing it all weekend.

"The competitiveness of our car is better than last year, even though it's not happy."

In sixth was Jack Le Brocq, who gained a brilliant nine places from 15th on the grid.

Tickford Racing pitted Le Brocq on laps 2 and 21, with the 2016 Super2 runner-up holding firm to record a strong result to commence his second Tickford campaign strongly.

Another Super2 champion in Todd Hazelwood also moved forward, with the Brad Jones Racing driver racing from 16th to 10th.

Hazelwood's teammate Jack Smith also laid down the gauntlet, rising five spots from 22nd to 17th.

The Repco Supercars Championship field will return to the track for ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 10:05am AEDT on Sunday. Tickets are on sale now.

This weekend's event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and the Seven Network, and will be streamed on Kayo. Check out the full TV schedule here.

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