15/04/2024

Shane van Gisbergen scores the Larry Perkins Trophy at the Melbourne 400. (Image: @Supercars/Twitter)

Chaz Mostert and Shane van Gisbergen lit Albert Park alight over the weekend, winning two races each across the four 100km races.

Chaz Mostert and Shane van Gisbergen lit Albert Park alight over the weekend, winning two races each across the four 100km races.

The Supercars’ star-studded weekend was shared with the Formula 1, alongside the Porsche Carrera Cup.

The four-day event saw qualifying for races six and seven on Thursday and qualifying for races eight and nine on Friday. Race six was held on Friday, and races seven and eight occurred on Saturday, followed by race nine on Sunday.

Here is what happened in Round 3 of Supercars action at Albert Park:

Thursday

Race 6 Qualifying

The Supercars’ pit lane opened on Thursday afternoon for the first of two qualifying sessions that day, plenty of action was in store.

As drivers were beginning to become accustomed to the new Albert Park surface, there were some slip-ups.

Broc Feeney caught the wall at turn five, scraping the left-hand side of his car, leaving it looking worse for wear.

David Reynolds posted the fastest time, with a 1:45.67. The 36-year-old appeared comfortable with the track despite the new changes.

As the session came to a close, many drivers were filling the timesheet for the first time, some not even, including championship leader – Shane van Gisbergen.

Jake Kostecki collided with the wall at turn five with just over two minutes left in the session. This time the damage was more substantial compared to Feeney’s encounter.

The collision caused a red flag, which soon ended the session, due to there not being enough time to set a new time.

van Gisbergen was left stranded with no completed laps, meaning he would start race six at the back of the grid. He was elevated to P23 as Jake Kostecki received a penalty for causing a red flag and Scott Pye was relegated to P24.

Anton de Pasquale continued his great run qualifying pace, locking out the front row, only 0.025 seconds behind Reynolds.

Race 7 Qualifying

Jake Kostecki was unable to participate due to the damage caused in race six qualifying, merely 30 minutes prior. However, Triple Eight Race Engineering did a spectacular job to have Feeney’s car ready for qualifying.

Feeney was impressively able to put his car on the second row, only marginally slower than van Gisbergen.

van Gisbergen made sure he didn’t make the same mistake twice, by setting a banker time earlier. He went on to complete one more lap – a 1:45.17.

This was only good enough for P3, however, this time around, Dick Johnson Racing’s Will Davidson took pole setting a time of 1:44.94.

Davidson became the first driver of the season to have multiple pole positions.

Davidson was joined on the front row by Reynolds, who was showing off his Albert Park knowledge, only 0.081 seconds behind.

Friday

Race 8 Qualifying

On Friday, the usual suspects were back at it again.

Dick Johnson Racing demonstrated their qualifying pace, setting the timing charts alight. Anton de Pasquale took advantage of this, claiming his second pole position of the season with a 1:45.80.

Davidson sat close, but not close enough – 0.129 seconds behind – good enough for P2.

van Gisbergen completed an equal-most four laps, more than usual for him. However, his efforts were only good enough for P3.

Tim Slade managed to get his entry onto the third row, imposingly. While Mark Winterbottom also made a top ten appearance in P10.

Race 9 Qualifying

Dick Johnson Racing pair de Pasquale and Davidson were at it again, shortly after race 8 qualifying ended. This time Davidson took pole position honours, for the third time this season.

de Pasquale was not far behind, only 0.007 seconds, once again locking out the front row for Dick Johnson Racing.

Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen uncharacteristically struggled for qualifying pace, however, his efforts were still good enough for P6.

Thomas Randle worked hard for his best qualifying position this season, taking P4, only 1.580 seconds off the lead pace. Slade’s pace was justified when he made another top 10 appearance, qualifying in P8.

Todd Hazelwood was unable to get his car out on time for this session, leaving him stranded at the back of the grid for the final race of the weekend.

With all the qualifying out of the way, it was time to go racing around Albert Park for the first time since 2019, with the all-important Larry Perkins trophy up for grabs.

Race 6

The Melbourne 400 was underway, and David Reynolds led from pole position. Chaz Mostert got a great start, leaping from P3 to P2, overtaking Anton de Pasquale into turn one.

Mostert continued to steer closer to Reynolds, trying to force him into a mistake to take the lead of the race.

Shane van Gisbergen who started in P23, leapt onto the brink of the top 10 after only just three laps as he made the most of his race pace.

Mostert forced Reynolds into the mistake he wanted and took the lead within the early laps of the race. He then began to run away from the field.

It was discovered early that the soft compound tyre degraded quickly across the new surface. Meaning that across a 20-lap race, an early pit stop was vital if drivers started on that compound.

Many drivers launched into the pitlane around laps six and seven. de Pasquale started the on the harder compound, so his first stint was longer, which saw him take the lead of the race. This was short-lived, as his tyres began to lose grip.

On lap 13, Mostert sat close behind de Pasquale, hoping for another mistake to occur. He completed the move shortly after and began to stretch his lead once again.

Meanwhile, van Gisbergen continued to make progress up the field. After his pit stop, he found himself with a real opportunity to make the podium.

With the cars going around the track for the final laps, van Gisbergen was in P4, sweating down the back of de Pasquale, who was struggling on the soft compound tyres.

After starting in P23, van Gisbergen miraculously reached P3, after de Pasquale’s tyre deflated and locked up – which forced a late retirement.

Mostert continued his merry way to the chequered flag, just under eight seconds ahead of Reynolds in P2. van Gisbergen capped off an awesome drive to finish P3, holding off a valiant Tim Slade.

Saturday

Race 7

Similarly to race six, the polesitter – Will Davidson – won the start and van Gisbergen in P3 cleared Reynolds in P2 into turn one.

It didn’t take long for van Gisbergen to make a move for the lead, which he completed on lap two at turn six.

At turn 13, Andre Heimgartner and Will Brown made contact, resulting in Heimgartner hitting the barrier and retiring. Brown was slapped with a drive-through penalty which cost him his race.

The pit stops caused some re-shuffling, as de Pasquale and Broc Feeney were forced to double stack. Feeney dropped to P12, and de Pasquale eventually filtered in P20.

With eight laps remaining, Cam Waters made a move on Davidson, which in turn did not go to plan. His reaction sent Davidson into the gravel, causing a safety. Davidson was relegated to the back of the grid and Waters received a drive-through penalty.

Following the restart, van Gisbergen retained his lead. On the final lap, Mostert turned James Courtney into the wall at the final corner, following Courtney’s previous attempt on Mostert moments prior.

Mostert crossed the line in P3 but was hit with a penalty demoting him to P22. This allowed Leigh Holdsworth to join van Gisbergen and Reynolds on the podium.

The crazy finish saw van Gisbergen claim his fifth win of the season, thus far. As well as Holdsworth to score his first podium of the season. van Gisbergen’s win was his first at Albert Park since 2016.

Race 8

Hours after completing his race seven victory from P3, van Gisbergen was primed to do the same once again.

Many cars mowed the grass at turn one, Scott Pye the most unfortunate of them all – suffering a puncture after making contact with another car.

Drivers and teams discovered the wealth of the hard compound tyre, as some teams opted to pit as early as lap two.

On lap four, Davidson made the pass for the lead on his teammate – Anton de Pasquale – after de Pasquale locked up at turn one.

de Pasquale continued to struggle upon re-entry of the track, losing P2 to Reynolds. van Gisbergen got close but was kept at bay for the time being.

Davidson pitted, and van Gisbergen made the move on de Pasquale – moments before the latter made a pit stop.

Laps later, van Gisbergen made a similar move on Reynolds, making the pass stick before Reynolds took to pit lane. van Gisbergen took the lead, having faith in the soft compound.

van Gisbergen emerged in P2 following his stop, and muscled his way into P1, applying minor contact to Davidson to make the move stick.

The number 97 completed a Saturday steal, with back-to-back wins, putting one hand on the Larry Perkins Trophy.

Davidson held onto P2, and Reynolds completed the podium, less than a second behind Davidson in P3.

Sunday

Race 9

It was another front-row lockout for team Dick Johnson Racing. Davidson began on pole, with de Pasquale alongside on the dirty side of the track.

Much squabbling occurred early, but no major moves, apart from van Gisbergen launching up the field from P6.

Davidson, who led the race, endured a major lock-up on lap 5, which forced him to pit. van Gisbergen pitted the following lap and rejoined in front of the Dick Johnson Racing pair who tussled earlier in the lap.

After pitting on lap seven, Mostert continued to hold the lead of the race, but P1 was in threat of championship leader – van Gisbergen.

This time was lost a couple of laps later, when van Gisbergen locked up at turn nine, giving Mostert some breathing space.

The damage endured to van Gisbergen’s tyre was heavy, he continued to lose time to Mostert. Soon, he was under attack from Davidson in P3, on lap 18.

His tyre eventually gave way, forcing a second pit stop, which allowed the Dick Johnson Racing pair to jump onto the podium places.

Mostert crossed the line for the final time of the weekend in P1, celebrating his 30th birthday as best he could. Davidson and de Pasquale in P2 and P3 respectively.

van Gisbergen finished the race just under a minute later, coming home in P20. This was just enough to claim the Larry Perkins Trophy, with a tally of 241 points across the weekend, edging Mostert by 17 points.

A troubling race nine for Reynolds cost his chance at the trophy, despite winning a race he was well within the hunt due to consistent race finishes.

van Gisbergen claims his first Larry Perkins Trophy and now sits 144 points ahead of de Pasquale – who is currently P2 in the championship.

Shane van Gisbergen remains the leader of the Championship, the top four stay close. (Image: Supercars)

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