Penrite rookie Matt Payne dominates Race 28 to take maiden win
Erebus celebrates double championship glory with Shane van Gisbergen DNF
Estimated crowd of 260,700 takes in 2023 edition of Adelaide 500
Penrite Racing rookie Matt Payne has dominated Race 28 to win the VAILO Adelaide 500, with Erebus Motorsport celebrating double championship glory.
Payne took the lead from champion-elect Brodie Kostecki into the Senna Chicane, and wasn’t headed throughout the 78-lap, 250km affair. The Aucklander also became the 10th different driver to win a race in 2023.
It marked the second time in two years that a rookie won the Adelaide 500, with Red Bull Ampol Racing driver Broc Feeney winning the corresponding race in 2022.
Payne and Feeney, both aged 21, led home Penrite Racing veteran David Reynolds, who added to his Saturday podium with third on Sunday. The victory margin was 8.5483s, with Reynolds 11.1857s down in third.
"Man, the car was so fast," said Payne, who debuted in the 2022 Great Race with Lee Holdsworth.
"I've got to thank Penrite Racing for the fast car, it was such a jet.
"Everyone's been working so hard here, to crack a win with Dave at the Gold Coast was amazing, and now finally I get to get my first win in Adelaide. So stoked, so proud of everyone."
It was a heartbreaking end to full-time Supercars competition for Shane van Gisbergen, who didn’t see the chequered flag for the second day running after being forced into the lane with braking issues with his #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro.
With van Gisbergen scoring no points, and with champion-elect Kostecki and Will Brown eighth and 14th, Erebus added a maiden teams’ championship to its drivers’ title. The end margin between Erebus and Triple Eight was 176 points, having been 161 heading into Sunday.
Kostecki’s title-winning margin was 323 points, with van Gisbergen failing to score all weekend. Feeney ended up third ahead of Chaz Mostert, who claimed fourth overall from Brown in the final race.
Cam Waters (#43 Monster Energy Mustang), Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang), Andre Heimgartner (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro) and Anton De Pasquale (#11 Shell V-Power Mustang) came home ahead of Kostecki, who celebrated with burnouts on pit straight.
Payne out-dragged Kostecki to Turn 1, with the New Zealander breaking away into a three-second lead by lap 19.
Behind them, van Gisbergen climbed up the order from 15th and was up to 11th on lap 5 after a robust battle with Brown through Turn 7.
Jack Le Brocq’s final race with Matt Stone Racing was undone early after contact with Nick Percat’s #2 Mobil 1 NTI Mustang, with wheel to wheel contact sending the #34 Truck Assist Camaro into the barriers at the final corner.
Mostert and Feeney locked horns at Turn 7 for third position, with the WAU star handed a five-second penalty over the incident. Feeney managed to get past Mostert, who served the penalty at his first stop.
Van Gisbergen stopped on lap 15 and was short-fuelled, dropping the three-time champion into the top 10 battle once the first round of stops was completed.
The first round of stops wasn’t without incident, however, with James Golding (#31 Nulon Camaro) hit with a drive-through penalty after being released into the path of Macauley Jones (#96 Pizza Hut Camaro). The contact sent Jones into a spin in the path of his pit crew. Golding and Jones were eventually classified 20th and 22nd.
Van Gisbergen’s efforts to fight back included a battle with Thomas Randle (#55 Castrol Mustang), with the two cars making contact at Turn 4. Randle was forced wide, but van Gisbergen avoided penalty over the incident.
Just after Payne made his first compulsory stop, Kostecki was passed for second by Feeney, with the #19 Penrite Ford four seconds up the road. Kostecki chased Feeney, but locked up into Turn 9 and was passed for third by Reynolds at Turn 4 on the following lap.
Waters dropped down to ninth after his stop, but quickly moved forward, passing the likes of Brown, Will Davison (#17 Shell V-Power Mustang), Randle, van Gisbergen and Kostecki.
Van Gisbergen and Davison kicked off the second round of stops with 33 laps to go. By then, Payne led Feeney by six seconds.
However, van Gisbergen’s woes emerged once he moved aside for Feeney at pit entry, and came in four times to find a resolution. The Kiwi’s car remained in the lane for the remainder of the race, casting a pall over a spirited campaign that featured a third Great Race victory in October.
Payne emerged six seconds ahead of Feeney after his second stop, and set about extending his margin. Reynolds, Waters, Heimgartner, Kostecki, De Pasquale, Mostert, Randle and Davison rounded out the top 10.
On lap 63, Kostecki launched an attack on Heimgartner at the Turn 9 hairpin, only to bowl a wide and gift sixth and seventh to Mostert and De Pasquale respectively.
Mostert cleared Heimgartner for fifth into Turn 9 on lap 66, with the two cars making contact into the Turn 8 sweeper. Both survived, with Mostert brushing the concrete barriers at over 200km/h.
The battles down the order did little to deter Payne, who in his 29th career race, claimed his first Supercars win and podium in one fell swoop.
Davison and Randle rounded out the top 10, with Todd Hazelwood (#3 REDARC Mustang) 11th in his final race with Blanchard Racing Team. Declan Fraser (#56 TRADIE Mustang) joined van Gisbergen in retirement after picking up power steering issues in his Ford.
The 2024 Repco Supercars Championship will commence at the Thrifty Bathurst 500, part of the Bathurst SuperFest, on February 23-25.