Supercars: Ford star takes the fight to van Gisbergen at Winton
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Ford star Cameron Waters has emerged as the blue oval’s best hope of chasing down runaway championship leader Shane van Gisbergen after a winning weekend at Winton.
After being stripped of a win in the last round at Perth, Waters left the Winton SuperSprint with two victories and a pair of pole positions to assert himself as the Ford driver most likely to challenge the defending champion this year.
Backing up from his first victory of the year in Saturday’s opening race with a second win in Sunday’s final sprint battle, Waters was again forced to hold off the fast-finishing Triple Eight star as he hunted him late in the race.
Waters had held a lead of almost six seconds over van Gisbergen after the Tickford Racing driver emerged from his pit stop on lap 25, but van Gisbergen had cut that to less than half a second by the end of the 36-lap race.
Van Gisbergen earlier claimed his ninth win of the year after producing a brilliant mid-race pass on Waters to secure the 150th podium of his career.
Sitting fourth in the championship behind van Gisbergen and Dick Johnson Racing duo and fellow Ford drivers Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison leading into he round, Waters has now moved up to third position in the standings.
Brad Jones Racing’s Andre Heimgartner claimed his second podium of the year to finish third in the final race behind Waters and van Gisbergen.
Celebrating the win with a burnout, Waters was confident he could still find more pace from his car to hunt van Gisbergen.
“I am so pumped to get it done again, two wins this weekend,” Waters said.
“Absolutely amazing, I can’t thank my team enough, they have given me an absolute rocket ship this weekend and it’s been awesome to be able to convert it as well.
“I knew Shane took three tyres (at his pit stop) so I knew he was going to come back at me as fast as that first stint but I just tried to press on and maintain as much of a gap as we could and I held on.
“It was my best ever (start) and a bit of tactics trying to get Shane back in the pack, I knew he was fast so I helped Andre out to get him through in front of Shane and it really helped the start of the race for me.
“It means so bloody much. They (the team) have worked so hard, I’ve already said we’ve had an up-down start to the year and they have worked hard to make sure they have given us the best cars that they can.
“There is still more pace in this car, we are going to keep digging. We have still got to hunt down this guy (van Gisbergen) on race pace so we will keep pushing.”
Van Gisbegen extended his lead in the championship to 281 points over De Pasquale, who managed two eighth places and 10th in the Winton round. De Pasquale’s teammate Davison also endured a tough weekend.
After extending his points lead with a win and two second placings at Winton, van Gisbergen hoped to build on his championship momentum into the next round in Darwin.
“I hope everyone enjoyed the show that Cam and I put on. It was great battling him all weekend, but he came out on top,” van Gisbergen said.
“For us, it is really cool - a good points weekend and we gained a lot on the guys behind and we have got to keep that momentum going.”
Grove Racing’s David Reynolds completed a strong weekend when he finished fourth in the final race after his third-place finish in the first two races.