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Kostecki, van Gisbergen bracing for title showdown

Supercars
15 Oct
Top two in Bathurst, top two in the standings with two rounds remaining
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  • Brodie Kostecki leads Shane van Gisbergen by 131 points

  • Kostecki has led almost all the way since Albert Park in April

  • Van Gisbergen hasn't led at all during the season

Brodie Kostecki and Shane van Gisbergen are readying for a big run home with both championships on the line in the final two rounds.

Van Gisbergen slashed Kostecki’s championship lead to 131 points after he combined with Richie Stanaway to win the Repco Bathurst 1000.

There’s plenty at stake, given Erebus Motorsport and Triple Eight Race Engineering are also wedged in a season-long battle to win the teams’ championship. Erebus leads by 179 points, with the margin dipping as low as 43 points at The Bend.

The last four Supercars drivers’ titles have been clinched at the penultimate round, with van Gisbergen beaten by Scott McLaughlin in the last title showdown in Newcastle in 2018.

Full battle: Kostecki, van Gisbergen dispute Perth win

Kostecki has six wins to van Gisbergen’s five, and the two have skipped away from respective teammates Will Brown and Broc Feeney.

Brown’s title charge suffered a major blow at The Bend and is 390 points down, while Feeney haemorrhaged points with a shattering late race mechanical failure and is 408 points adrift.

Walkinshaw Andretti United driver Chaz Mostert is a mathematical chance, albeit slim at 547 points down with 600 to win.

Remarkably, van Gisbergen hasn’t led the championship at any stage this season, although he did win the first race of the year in Newcastle before both Triple Eight cars were disqualified.

Kostecki has been the form driver this year, finishing every race and claiming a season-high 17 podiums in 24 starts. The only blips have been damage-related incidents in Tasmania and Darwin, and mechanical issues in Townsville and Sydney.

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Van Gisbergen, meanwhile, has a DNF to his name after crashing out in the first Sunday race at Symmons Plains, his first retirement since 2020.

For Kostecki, he only needs fourth place finishes in Surfers Paradise and Adelaide to claim Erebus’ first championship if van Gisbergen wins every race.

However, the Perth-born driver’s ambition is clear, saying in Bathurst: “Try and win the next four races, that’s pretty much it.”

Final lap: van Gisbergen scores Triple Eight's 10th Bathurst win

Van Gisbergen has done it all before, winning the 2016 title in the Homebush finale before wrapping up the 2021 and 2022 championships with a round to spare.

The Kiwi is eyeing a fourth title before he jets off to pursue a career in NASCAR, but knows Kostecki will be difficult to budge.

“Anything can happen,” said van Gisbergen, who has won six races on the Gold Coast and five in Adelaide.

“There are four races left and obviously Brodie is doing very well. He doesn’t make many mistakes and, as you have to be, on a bad day he’s still in the top five.

“He’s an awesome driver, their raw speed is definitely better than ours, our race pace is always pretty close.

“Gold Coast is one of my better tracks and Adelaide is okay, so hopefully we can put some pressure on them.”

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 on October 27-29.

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