Watch: Kiwi Andre Heimgartner claims front-row start for Sandown 500
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After two 20-lap chaotic qualifying races, the grid has been set for tomorrow's Supercars Penrite Sandown 500; pole having been claimed by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes after the Red Bull duo locked out both of the wet-weather affected races.
“We’ve been a little bit hit and miss in the wet this year, we’ve had some good performances and some ones that haven’t been so nice,” said Whincup. “[Engineer David] Cauchi did a great job with the car, the strategy with the tyres. Car was good and yeah, poles have been few and far between this year so we’ll certainly take this one.”
Among the star performers was Kiwi Andre Heimgartner. The Nissan Kelly Racing pilot came home in second in the second race, meaning a front-row start for tomorrow with co-driver Bryce Fullwood. David Reynolds/Luke Youlden, Will Davison/Alex Davison, and series leader Scott McLaughlin with co-driver Alex Premat start fifth.
Photo / Getty Images
Both of the day's 20-lap qualifying races — one for co-drivers and one for primary drivers respectively — were a chaotic and unpredictable watch.
From second on the grid, Craig Lowndes dominated the opening show. The fight behind him however was one of the best of the 2019 season.
Youngsters Bryce Fullwood (co-driver to Heimgartner) and Will Brown (co-driver to Anton de Pasquale) were the men of the match, carving through the top five and passing plenty of more fancied names to threaten for the podium. Fullwood's race almost started in disaster, when he locked his wheels on the dirty inside line and almost skittled the leading trio.
It was one of two big moments Fullwood survived. The second was a spectacular full 360-degree spin at turn four (having just lost third to Brown), where he surprisingly was able to hold position over the chasing Premat. Eventually Lowndes took the win, over Brown, Garth Tander, Fullwood, and Thomas Randle in fifth. This defined the starting grid for the primary driver race.
Randle spent most of the race battling with Tickford Racing teammate James Moffat (co-driver to Chaz Mostert). Moffat was quick all race, but was forced to retire after a wide moment at turn one while attempting to pass Premat saw him slide back into Randle and break his steering.
De Pasquale's impressive starting spot for the second race at the front alongside Lowndes' co-driver, Whincup, was neutralised almost immediately, when van Gisbergen speared into him at turn one. Both were sent into a spin, and down to the back of the pack as Whincup, Heimgartner, McLaughlin, Lee Holdsworth, and David Reynolds scampered away.
Oddly, De Pasquale was handed a penalty for the incident, even though van Gisbergen admitted fault over the radio. "I stuffed up royally. [...] I don't know what they're doing giving him a penalty," said van Gisbergen in a later interview. Driving Standards Observer Craig Baird admitted during the race that the penalty was an error.
Van Gisbergen retired shortly after with mechanical issues resulting from the impact. With the opening lap shenanigans and the selection of cars rolling the dice on slick tyres (including Cameron Waters and Scott Pye), the order shuffled massively. Behind Holdsworth in fifth was Will Davison, Fabian Coulthard, and an incredibly impressive Brodie Kostecki who had passed 13 cars to get to eighth over Mostert (recovering from last), and James Courtney.
Whincup's grip on first never truly dimmed, and he eventually took the spot (and with it pole) by over seven seconds from Heimgartner, Reynolds, Will Davison, and McLaughlin in fifth who faded into the clutches of teammate Coulthard as the race wore on due to tyre issues. Holdsworth, Kostecki, Mostert, and Courtney rounded out the top 10.
Coverage of the Penrite Sandown 500 kicks off tomorrow afternoon at 2.45pm NZDT.
Qualifying race one, co-drivers
1. Craig Lowndes
2. Will Brown
3. Garth Tander
4. Bryce Fullwood
5. Thomas Randle
6. Alex Premat
7. Luke Youlden
8. Michael Caruso
9. Richard Muscat
10. Alex Davison
11. Warren Luff
12. Steven Richards
13. Tony D'Alberto
14. Dale Wood
15. Dean Fiore
16. Tim Blanchard
17. Chris Pither
18. Jack Perkins
19. Alex Rullo
20. Jonathon Webb
21. Jack Kostecki
22. Dean Canto
23. Ash Walsh
24. Jack Smith
DNF. James Moffat
Penrite Oils Sandown 500, starting order/race two results
1. Jamie Whincup/Craign Lowndes
2. Andre Heimgartner/Bryce Fullwood
3. David Reynolds/Luke Youlden
4. Will Davison/Alex Davison
5. Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat
6. Fabian Coulthard/Tony D'Alberto
7. Lee Holdsworth/Thomas Randle
8. Brodie Kostecki/Jake Kostecki
9. Chaz Mostert/James Moffat
10. James Courtney/Jack Perkins
11. Todd Hazelwood/Jack Smith
12. Simona De Silvestro/Alex Rullo
13. Anton de Pasauqle/Will Brown
14. Cameron Waters/Michael Caruso
15. Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards
16. James Golding/Richard Muscat
17. Rick Kelly/Dale Wood
18. Nick Percat/Tim Blanchard
19. Richie Stanaway/Chris Pither
20. Tim Slade/Ash Walsh
21. Macauley Jones/Dean Canto
22. Garry Jacobson/Dean Fiore
23. Scott Pye/Warren Luff
24. Jack Le Brocq/Jonathon Webb
25. Shane van Gisbergen/Garth Tander