De Pasquale snaps Ford drought in Townsville

08 Jul
DJR pulls off strategy masterclass in Race 17
5 mins by James Pavey

Anton De Pasquale has snapped Ford’s 15-race winless streak with victory in an absorbing NTI Townsville 500 finale.

De Pasquale, who last won at Hidden Valley in June 2022, led home Erebus Motorsport Chevrolet star Brodie Kostecki in an 88-lap strategy epic.

The Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford driver completed victory on a weekend that 127,044 fans packed into Reid Park.

It was the first Ford win in Townsville since Scott McLaughlin in 2020, and the team’s first since Will Davison at Pukekohe last September.

The win itself was a stunning turnaround by the Shell Ford squad, given De Pasquale didn't finish Saturday’s race due to an electrical drama.

"It's awesome, it's been an average year so far. The guys worked all night fixing the problems from yesterday," said De Pasquale, who became the eighth different winner of 2023.

"I had an amazing car today, it was a dream to drive. Big credit to everyone behind me, they've done awesome. It's good to get this done."

Brad Jones Racing driver Andre Heimgartner completed the podium, with Red Bull Ampol Racing teammates Broc Feeney and Shane van Gisbergen fourth and fifth.

Van Gisbergen marked his 500th Supercars race with a charge from 25th — which featured a spin on lap 1 — but he handed fourth to teammate Feeney at the flag.

The end margin between De Pasquale and Kostecki was 5.0692s, with the former taking his first victory in Townsville.

Kostecki slashed teammate Will Brown’s championship lead to seven points heading to the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight.

Pole-sitter Cam Waters staved off a Jack Le Brocq challenge to lead the field through Turn 2 for the first time. Behind them, van Gisbergen was sent into a spin at Turn 7 by Declan Fraser.

No further action was taken over the incident, but it left van Gisbergen with a mountain to climb, having already started 25th and last.

Chaz Mostert’s race ended with a power steering issue on lap 4, consigning the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver to his second DNF of the season.

Waters staved off a Le Brocq pass at Turn 11 on lap 5, and opened up a 1.1s by the time he made his first stop on lap 22.

All the while, De Pasquale had moved up to third, with Thomas Randle dropping down the order as Heimgartner and both Erebus drivers marched forward.

By lap 33, all drivers had made their first stops, and De Pasquale — who short-fuelled early — led Waters by 11 seconds, with Feeney, James Courtney, Le Brocq, Scott Pye, Heimgartner, Kostecki and Randle behind.

The new key player was Feeney, who had started 13th and stopped on lap 18. Le Brocq’s stop, meanwhile, was slightly delayed when Nulon Racing mechanics released Tim Slade into the path of the #34.


The race was turned on its head when the bp Ultimate Safety Car was deployed for debris — the diffuser from Cameron Hill’s Camaro — at the exit of Turn 6.

De Pasquale led a swathe of drivers into pit lane, with Brown, Bryce Fullwood, Will Davison, Hill and van Gisbergen staying out to avoid double-stacking.

Brown led the field to green on lap 39 ahead of Fullwood and Davison, with De Pasquale first of the drivers with two stops in fourth. At Turn 3, Davison let De Pasquale through.

De Pasquale quickly picked off Fullwood and Brown and again led by lap 41, with Le Brocq picking off Waters — who was dealing with a dash failure — for sixth.

Off-sequence, van Gisbergen muscled through the field and took Feeney with him; Waters, meanwhile, had fallen to 12th by lap 54.

Kostecki — who had a question mark over fuel delivery — passed Waters at Turn 2 on lap 46, and put a move on Heimgartner at Turn 11 on the following lap.

All the while, De Pasquale opened up a margin at the front, and was nearly five seconds ahead of Le Brocq, who was first of the two-stop drivers.

Behind them, an angry mid-pack saw Davison shuffled down to 22nd and into pit lane after side-to-side contact with Pye.

Drivers began making their final stops; Heimgartner stopped on lap 62, and Kostecki on lap 63, with De Pasquale enjoying a 20-plus-second lead over Le Brocq.

De Pasquale, Le Brocq and Randle were brought in on lap 64, and the #11 Ford was released with an 11-second lead over the squabbling Feeney and Heimgartner.

On lap 66, Heimgartner made a move on Feeney at Turn 11, with the latter moving back past into the final corner. On lap 68, Heimgartner made it stick, but the battle helped Kostecki range in.

At the end of lap 69, Kostecki ran into Feeney at the final corner, before completing the move at Turn 2 — but not without more contact.

Kostecki pushed Heimgartner along as De Pasquale ran alone in the lead; by lap 76, the margin had been slashed to 8.5s. On lap 77, Kostecki made his move on Heimgartner at Turn 7.

Behind them, van Gisbergen cleared Feeney, but the two teammates would swap positions at the flag, much to van Gisbergen’s dismay.

Ahead, De Pasquale — who languished in 20th in the points heading into Sunday — cruised home to take his first win of the season.

Brown finished sixth ahead of Mark Winterbottom, Randle, Fullwood and Le Brocq. Waters, meanwhile, plummeted to 15th.

Brown, who won Saturday’s race, leads the championship by seven points over Kostecki, with Feeney and van Gisbergen 26 and 72 points back respectively.

Erebus, meanwhile, will carry a 91-point lead over Triple Eight to Sydney Motorsport Park.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight on July 28-30. Tickets are on sale now.

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