Van Gisbergen dominates historic first Gen3 race

11 Mar 2023
Camaro claims victory in first race of new era
4 mins by James Pavey

The Camaro has claimed victory in the first race of Supercars’ new era, with Shane van Gisbergen dominating the Thrifty Newcastle 500 opener.

Red Bull Ampol Racing gave Chevrolet the best possible reintroduction into Supercars with a one-two finish.

Defending champion van Gisbergen seized the lead through the first round of pit stops, and wasn’t headed from there.

It was the 76th career victory for van Gisbergen, the 242nd for Triple Eight and the first for the team with a Camaro.

Van Gisbergen’s victory was the first championship race win by a Chevrolet driver since Kevin Bartlett at Oran Park in 1982.

It was also the fifth time in seven seasons, dating back to 2017, that the New Zealander had won the opening race of a season.

For just the second time, an entire Newcastle race ran green for its entirety, with 14 cars finishing on the lead lap.

Broc Feeney completed the quinella 14.7408s in arrears of his teammate, with Tickford Racing star Cam Waters the first Mustang home in third.

"I have to thank the team, one-two in our first race out," van Gisbergen said.

"I have never been comfortable in this car, and the team's done everything they can to make it better for me.

"I feel like a wobbler driving the thing, but the team's given us two great cars. Tomorrow's going to be tough, gotta come back and do it again."

Pole-sitter Brodie Kostecki led the opening stint in his #99 Coca-Cola Camaro, but came home fourth — where he emerged after the first round of stops.

Kostecki and Waters dragged to Turn 1, with the pole-sitter the clear leader heading up to Turn 2.

Behind them, van Gisbergen made a strong start and jumped Tim Slade (#400 Nulon Camaro) and David Reynolds (#26 Penrite Mustang).

Anton De Pasquale (#11 Shell V-Power Mustang) dropped to last after being turned by Todd Hazelwood (#3 CoolDrive Mustang) at Turn 8. No further action was taken over the incident.

Waters and Feeney kept Kostecki honest, and by lap 6, the top three were covered by just 0.9s.

After a lull, van Gisbergen caught the leaders and pounced on teammate Feeney for third at Turn 8 on lap 13.

Van Gisbergen set off after Waters, but try as he might, the reigning champion was unable to displace the #6 Monster Mustang.


The closest the rivals got was on lap 29; Waters slid exiting Turn 11, and van Gisbergen drew alongside — only for Waters to pit immediately.

Two laps earlier, Feeney stopped from third; on lap 30, Kostecki stopped from the lead, and emerged behind the squabbling Waters and Feeney.

Van Gisbergen emerged ahead of all three after his lap 31 stop, had track position, and powered away from Waters.

By lap 48, the #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro was 5.2s ahead of Waters, with Feeney and Kostecki dropping away from Waters.

Van Gisbergen had followed Slade out of pit lane, with the #400 Nulon Camaro delayed by a stuck front wheel.

By lap 55, van Gisbergen had opened his lead to 7.8s, with Waters keeping Feeney at arm’s length.

Reynolds and Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang) disputed fifth, which became fourth once Kostecki became first of the leaders to make his second stop on lap 55.

Feeney made his second stop on the next lap, with Waters stopping one lap later in response to negate the undercut.

It didn’t work, Feeney jumping Waters for effective second and opening up a gap — with Mostert clearing Reynolds at Turn 8.

On lap 65, van Gisbergen finally made his second stop, and took on green tyres on the right side of his #97 Camaro.

The margin between the two Red Bull Ampol Camaros on rejoin was four seconds, with Waters one second behind Feeney.

Behind them, Kostecki fell into the clutches of a charging Mostert — Reynolds had dropped out of the top 10 — as Will Brown held a lonely sixth.

After an enthralling battle, Mostert out-dragged Kostecki for fourth position on lap 81, but was 10.5s behind Ford stablemate Waters.

It meant little to van Gisbergen, who scored his first victory since Gold Coast 2022 to commence his title defence in fine fashion.

Andre Heimgartner (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro), Mark Winterbottom (#18 DEWALT Camaro), Scott Pye (#20 Hino Camaro) and James Courtney (#5 Snowy Rivers Caravans Mustang) rounded out the top 10.

Nick Percat (#2 Mobil 1 NTI Mustang) was the only DNF of the race, with Slade dropping five laps in his 400th career start.

Sunday’s action will commence with ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 11:15am local time, followed by the Top Ten Shootout at 12:35pm.

The Thrifty Newcastle 500 will conclude with the 95-lap Race 2 at 3:20pm.

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