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De Pasquale flips script after 2022 SVG clash

11 Jul
Third time lucky in Townsville after 2019, 2022 misses
3 mins by James Pavey
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Finally winning in Townsville was an “amazing feeling” for Anton De Pasquale after close — and controversial — calls in 2019 and 2022.

De Pasquale dominated Race 17 at the NTI Townsville 500 to secure the Shell V-Power Racing Team’s first win of the season.

The Ford driver scored his first victory at Reid Park, having come close twice before in dramatic circumstances.

Ironically, Shane van Gisbergen won on both occasions, with De Pasquale left wanting as he chased Townsville victory to no avail.

In 2019, a young De Pasquale was on for his first Supercars win in just his second season with Erebus Motorsport.

Erebus made a rain dance and put De Pasquale out on wet tyres as conditions worsened, and he found himself in a 35-second lead.

De Pasquale, however, later pushed too hard on his worn tyres, made two errors, and finished fourth after stopping after another Safety Car.

Last year, De Pasquale mowed down van Gisbergen in the closing laps, and sized up a pass for the win.

However, it ended in controversial scenes at the last corner as De Pasquale turned van Gisbergen, who then refused a redress.

The move set the paddock alight, with Triple Eight boss Jamie Whincup labelling the move "reckless".

Come 2023, and after 16 races without a podium, De Pasquale led from the front to banish demons of a poor season.

“It's cool to be back on the podium and ultimately winning, which is an amazing feeling,” De Pasquale told the Schick Cool Down Lap podcast.

“I’ve come close here a couple times, so to get one done is an awesome feeling, it’s an awesome track.

“Very similar to last year actually, driving last year’s race, racing Shane. But the strategy didn’t work out for us last year.

De Pasquale turns SVG at the final corner
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“Today I was able to run my own race, I had amazing pace in the middle part of the race. The car looked after its tyres.

“To top it off, the Safety Car made it life a hell of a lot easier, I didn’t have to come back and pass anyone else. I was in the prime position.

“All the stars aligned, but obviously still had to have the speed to get it done. It’s cool.”

De Pasquale languished in 20th in the championship prior to Sunday’s win, which was centred on a strategy masterclass.

The #11 Ford was armed with fresh tyres, but De Pasquale made the most of his pace — and well-time Safety Cars — to open up a big lead.

Brodie Kostecki tried to mow down the Shell Mustang late on, but De Pasquale held on after 250km — a format the driver himself prefers.

“This year, more than ever, there is an element of strategy,” De Pasquale said.

So close, yet so far in 2019

“We haven’t seen a three-stopper have potential here, that I can remember. This year it had real potential, Chaz [Mostert] yesterday and me today.

“That’s really cool. I enjoy these races, you settle into a groove.

"There’s an element of setting up the car right for the race and thinking about things before it.

“You get a lot less dudes doing dive-bombs into your door, which is good.

"There’s a lot of hard racing, but it’s generally cleaner when they know they have 200km to do with bent steering."

De Pasquale's next assignment is Sydney Motorsport Park, where he has won five Supercars races.

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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