V8SC: Shane van Gisbergen Dominates Rain-Soaked Eastern Creek for Sixth Career Win in Race 26

James Pike International, Supercars 0 Comments

EASTERN CREEK, New South Wales, Australia — Race report by Race Chaser Online V8 SuperCars Correspondent James Pike — V8 Supercars photo — Shane van Gisbergen survived the wet weather in New South Wales to win Race 26 of the V8 Supercars Championship on Saturday at Sydney Motorsports Park.

The driver of the #97 V.I.P. Petfoods Holden Commodore was dominant in the first wet-weather race since the 2011 Sandown 500, and claimed his sixth career victory at the beginning of his 100th round of V8 Supercars competition.

After qualifying sixth on the grid, van Gisbergen put together a massive start to jump to second by the time the field reached the second corner. He would pass Jamie Whincup for the lead on lap 5 and never looked back for the duration of the race.

Whincup began the event by qualifying on the pole — his 58th career V8 SuperCars Championship pole position — surpassing the legendary Peter Brock for most poles in series history.

Even though van Gisbergen was the class of the field, his run to victory was interrupted midway through the race. The Safety Car came out on lap 12 for the disabled Volvo of Scott McLaughlin, whose car was parked on the grass to the outside of Turn 2.

“It ‘half’ lost a cylinder on the previous lap, then it dropped a full cylinder as I was grabbing a gear down the main straight,” McLaughlin said when asked about what forced him to retire. “Then, the power steering locked up into turn 2.”

McLaughlin also confirmed that his team, Garry Rogers Motorsport, were going to attempt to change the engine on the #33 car between races. Although he knew it would be difficult to make the change happen in time, McLaughlin was confident that the operation would be successful.

“We’ve got the best team in the garage and we’ve done it before!” he said.

From that Safety Car period, van Gisbergen jumped ahead on the ensuing restart and cruised to victory. He was joined on the podium by runner-up Garth Tander, who came from 14th on the starting grid and gained the most positions out of anyone in the field. Craig Lowndes completed the podium in third.

In one additional incident on lap 1, David Reynolds and Tim Slade came together. Both cars sustained heavy suspension damage and were forced to retire from Saturday’s racing.

“It was crazy, it’s really really hard to see in the wet,” Slade expressed after he exited his car.

Once-championship leader Mark Winterbottom struggled for yet another race, although in this case his Ford Performance Racing team was able to pull a decent result from a horrendous start.

Starting on used wet tires, Mark struggled for pace and dropped back as far as 20th. When the Safety Car came out for McLaughlin, F.P.R. used the opportunity to put new wet tires on the #5 Ford Falcon. The change worked, as Winterbottom was able to climb to 12th by the end of the race.

However, Winterbottom still lost ground in the points standings to championship rival Jamie Whincup, who finished 4th and now sits 41 points clear at the top.

With the win, van Gisbergen jumps to fifth in the championship standings. Asked about his drive on the podium, van Gisbergen was quick to note the difficulty of driving in wet weather.

“The car was fantastic, he said. “It wasn’t easy, but the car made my job easier.”

Tander expanded on the matter when asked the same question.

“The car was mega in the wet, he said. “My wipers stopped working after 3 laps, so when it wasn’t raining, it was good!”

Tander also may have summarized the events of the race best in his final quote.

“We were quick, but when it’s raining, Gizzy’s in a class by himself.”

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