Cam Waters beats Shane van Gisbergen by 0.1945s after final-lap showdown
Waters claims first Supercars victory since Race 1 in Newcastle
Brodie Kostecki fifth, with van Gisbergen now 104 points behind
Cam Waters has held off a charging Shane van Gisbergen in a thrilling finish to win Race 25 at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500.
Waters, who last claimed victory in the Thrifty Newcastle 500 opener, beat van Gisbergen by just 0.1945s after a tense final-lap showdown.
The 0.1945s margin was the closest competitive finish in a Gold Coast race, beating the 0.2053s by Jamie Whincup in 2010. On that day, van Gisbergen also finished second.
David Reynolds (#26 Penrite Mustang) was a distant third, with Thomas Randle (#55 Castrol Mustang) fourth ahead of series leader Brodie Kostecki (#99 Coca-Cola Camaro), who raced from 10th to fifth following his Shootout error.
Van Gisbergen slashed Kostecki’s championship lead from 131 to 104 points, with 450 points remaining across the final three races of the season. Triple Eight also cut Erebus Motorsport's teams' championship lead from 179 to 131 points.
Kostecki's teammate Will Brown was classified 11th after starting 25th, and remains third in the championship, albeit 429 points down. Broc Feeney, who finished 14th, officially fell out of contention after dropping 456 points from the lead.
However, it was a day to remember for Waters, Tickford and the Blue Oval, which claimed its third win of the season in 25 attempts and first on the Gold Coast since 2018.
"Unbelievable, it's been such a shocking year, to be honest," said an emotional Waters, who was ninth in the points after his Bathurst DNF.
"The emotion on my teams' face says it all. So happy. Shane was coming for me, but there was no way I was gonna let a bloody GM beat me again.
"I had a bit of fuel-saving to do, and a bit of tyre-saving. I had a few kerb hops up my sleeve, so I made sure I was set for the last five laps. I gave it everything, he got to my rear bar, but he was never getting past me."
Pole-sitter Waters got away to a flying start and was followed by Matt Payne (#19 Penrite Mustang), who had Randle on his right. Randle and Chaz Mostert (#25 Mobil 1 Optus Mustang) straight-lined the chicane, with a slow starting van Gisbergen dropping down to fifth.
Behind them, Tim Slade (#23 Nulon Camaro) nudged into the Turn 2 tyre barrier but managed to rejoin the race, with Kostecki — who started 10th — beginning his fightback.
By lap 2, Kostecki was up to seventh after benefiting from Slade’s off and putting passes on Scott Pye (#20 Hino Camaro) and Andre Heimgartner (#8 R&J Batteries Camaro). On lap 3, Mostert passed Randle for third, before the two Fords swapped hands again on lap 9. Amid the battle, Mostert grazed the tyre barriers at Turn 12.
Waters began to eke away from Payne after the two Fords were separated by less than a second for the opening laps. Waters clocked the fastest lap, a 1:11.9831s, on lap 7 to open up a 0.7s margin.
Down the field, Feeney (#88 Red Bull Ampol Camaro) kicked off the pit cycle on lap 8 after being boxed in a battle that saw Brown (#9 Coca-Cola Camaro) move pass through Turns 12 and 13.
Drivers began to rack up bad sportsmanship flags over exceeding track limits, with Payne pinged on lap 13. Mostert and Brown were both warned, with the former dropping behind the leaders and later cleared by van Gisbergen on lap 17.
Waters caught the squabbling trio of Mark Winterbottom (#18 DEWALT Camaro), Bryce Fullwood (#14 Middy’s Electrical Camaro) and Jack Le Brocq (#34 Truck Assist Camaro), who had pitted, with Payne, Randle and van Gisbergen making up ground. All the while, Reynolds was brought in on lap 19, and set the fastest lap — a 1:11.7773s — on the following lap.
Brown’s spirited first stint ended with a stop on lap 21 while in 14th. Waters opened up his lead over Payne to 0.7s by lap 23, with the margin 1.3s by lap 26. By then, Mostert had dropped four seconds to van Gisbergen.
Randle and Mostert stopped on lap 26, with Waters stopping on the following lap. Waters rejoined just ahead of Reynolds, but the pole-sitter managed to extend his advantage to 2.8s by lap 49.
Van Gisbergen caught and cleared Payne for the lead on lap 29, with Kostecki four seconds behind the reigning champion. Van Gisbergen, Payne and Kostecki came in on lap 32, with Waters retaking the lead once James Golding (#31 Nulon Camaro) stopped on lap 33.
With the field cleansed, Waters led Reynolds by 0.9s, with Randle 0.9s behind the #26 Penrite Ford. Van Gisbergen trailed Randle by nine seconds and headed Kostecki by three, with Heimgartner, Mostert, Pye, James Courtney (#5 Snowy River Caravans Mustang) and the long-fuelled Payne rounding out the top 10.
The first five-second penalty for exceeding track limits was dished out on lap 34 to Todd Hazelwood (#3 CoolDrive Mustang), who first received a bad sportsmanship flag on lap 16. Cameron Hill (#35 Truck Assist Camaro) and Declan Fraser (#56 TRADIE Mustang), who ran 13th and 15th, were also hit with penalties before their second stops.
A five-second penalty was awarded to the charging Payne, but over a hairier moment in a lap 36 incident at the beach chicane. Payne ran down to the beach chicane with Courtney, and neither driver wanted to yield at the 150 metre board. Both cars ran through the chicane, with Payne slapped with a five-second penalty over driving infringement.
As Waters skipped away, Reynolds fell into the clutches of Randle, with van Gisbergen eating into the margin to the Castrol Ford. On lap 50, Reynolds was hit with a bad sportsmanship flag, with Randle pulling into the pits for his second stop.
Brown had worked his way to ninth by his second stop on lap 52, with Tickford pulling Waters in for his final stop on the following lap. Penrite Racing responded and called Reynolds in on the next lap, and the 2017 Bathurst emerged just ahead of the #6 Ford.
Waters hurried Reynolds along through the Turn 4 hairpin, and regained the effective lead into the beach chicane. Van Gisbergen stopped from the race lead on lap 56, and emerged behind Reynolds. Van Gisbergen was hit with a bad sportsmanship flag on lap 62, but began to reel in the leading Mustangs.
Kostecki was hit with a warning of his own after serving his second stop, with Heimgartner, Pye and Payne — who served his penalty at his stop — hounding the series leader. Later, Payne was pinged five seconds over exceeding track limits.
Waters set his fastest lap of his race on lap 60 — a 1:11.9108s — as he pulled away from Reynolds. By lap 68, Reynolds was 1.8s behind, with van Gisbergen 2.6s behind the Penrite Ford.
Reynolds quickly reeled in Waters as the leaders hit traffic, with the margin between the two Mustangs pegged back to 0.6s by lap 71. Waters pushed the margin back out to 2.2s by lap 75; behind, van Gisbergen quickly caught and passed Reynolds for second. By then, however, Waters was still two seconds up the road.
The leaders hit traffic, with Waters’ lead blowing out top 2.8s. Tickford’s nerves rose once the race leader was finally given a bad sportsmanship flag on lap 80, with van Gisbergen closing in. The margin was down to 1.5s by lap 82, and was just 0.4s as both cars raced down the pit straight for the penultimate time.
Van Gisbergen attacked Waters at Turn 4, but the Tickford star made up ground through the beach chicane, which proved the difference as van Gisbergen had to close up between Turns 11 and 14.It wasn’t enough for the defending champion, with Waters victorious by less than 0.2s.
Reynolds, Randle, Kostecki, Pye, Heimgartner, Mostert, Payne and Courtney rounded out the top 10. The 85-lap race ran green for its entirety, with Le Brocq and Jack Smith (#4 SCT Logistics) the only retirements.
Supercars will return to the track on Sunday for ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 10:05am local time/11:05am AEDT. The ARMOR ALL Top Ten Shootout will follow at 11:35am local time/12:35pm AEDT, before Race 26 at 2:15pm local time/3:15pm AEDT.