Shane van Gisbergen has won the final race of the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge at the Australian Grand Prix today, but it was Mark Winterbottom who claimed the event and the AUS$100,000 round prize-money.
The SP Tools Racing driver managed his tyres best to beat Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander home by 2.7s and break Winterbottom’s stranglehold in the the non-championship round at Albert Park.
After moving up to third on the opening lap, van Gisbergen opted to make his compulsory pit-stop for soft tyres later than much of the field. Maintaining position behind Tander and Lockwood Racing's Fabian Coulthard when he re-joined the race, the New Zealander then made his speed and fresh rubber count as he grabbed the lead with just three and a half laps to go of the 15-lap race.
“The car has been great all weekend, we didn't quite get the results yesterday which hurt us in the overall points but today it was pretty cool to come out and get a win,” said van Gisbergen.
“Today we decided to run a bit longer on the hard tyres because our softs were not in the best condition. We struggled to do 12 or 13 laps on previous days and that distance is what we needed to do today. I pushed quite hard on the first few laps and I was actually sort of keeping pace with the soft tyre runners. By running those few extra laps on the hards I could go hold a pretty good pace on the softs.
“The biggest thing this weekend was braking so we tried a whole lot of stuff on the car which improved it over the weekend. Tasmania is a big braking circuit so I think a lot of the stuff we learnt here this weekend will transfer there, hopefully.”
Winterbottom finished fifth after a slow start left him out of contention, but with the most points accumulated over the three races that counted to the overall tally, the Orrcon Steel FPR driver claimed overall victory in the round, picking up the AUS$100,000 prize in the process. Van Gisbergen finished second overall ahead of Tander, Will Davison and Coulthard.
“It is great to take the overall win here as last year we were not even close to being in contention,” said Winterbottom.
“Today we tried a few things which really didn't give us the result we expected so I am obviously disappointed not to make a clean sweep but we'll take the win either way. The thing that has made me happiest is my soft tyre pace. If we can carry the improvements we've made to tracks like Hamilton and Ipswich where we struggled last year, we will be looking good for the rest of the year.”
On a different tyre strategy to his main rivals, Davison led the opening nine laps of the race, but the Trading Post FPR driver lost out to Tander, van Gisbergen and Coulthard after his late pitstop finishing fourth ahead of team-mate Winterbottom, David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team), Lee Holdsworth (IRWIN Racing), Craig Lowndes (TeamVodafone), Todd Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing) and Rick Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing).
After his tap on TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup triggered Race Three's multi-car pile-up, James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) was hit with a 50-second pit lane penalty. Both he and Whincup failed to complete the race though with Courtney calling it a day with mechanical issues and Whincup retiring with brake problems six laps in.
As a result of yesterday's incident Taz Douglas (Team iSelect) and Karl Reindler (Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing) were forced to withdraw from today's race.
The next race is the Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains, Tasmania on 30 March to 1 April.
Race 4 result:
|1||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools Racing||15||30:36.8057|
|2||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||15||30:39.4451|
|3||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||15||30:39.7507|
|4||Will Davison||Trading Post FPR Ford||15||30:40.5031|
|5||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel FPR Ford||15||30:43.1242|
|6||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||15||30:48.9838|
|7||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing||15||30:51.6639|
|9||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||15||30:54.7796|
|10||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||15||30:55.6357|
|11||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing||15||30:57.1537|
|12||James Moffat||Team Norton DJR||15||31:00.1927|
|13||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing||15||31:01.0992|
|14||Jason Bright||Team BOC||15||31:03.4149|
|15||Tony D'Alberto||Tony D'Alberto Racing||15||31:04.8899|
|16||Steve Owen||V.I.P. Petfoods||15||31:06.0988|
|17||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing GRM||15||31:06.6782|
|18||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto Racing||15||31:07.8265|
|19||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing||15||31:10.1285|
|20||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew||15||31:12.0359|
|21||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||15||31:13.6723|
|22||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||15||31:18.7813|
|23||Alexandre Premat||Fujitsu Racing GRM||15||31:31.5891|
|DNF||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing||14||29:12.9071|
|DNF||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||5||11:02.6330|