Watch: Shane van Gisbergen beats Formula 1 star in chaotic Supercars clash
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Shane van Gisbergen has rebounded from a mixed opening round of the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries to claim two wins at round two of the series, with the other two race wins going to Anton De Pasquale and Cameron Waters (both also winning for the first time in races one and two, respectively).
Van Gisbergen's consistent night saw him net the evening's top prize for the top point scorer; a $1000 donation to a charity of the winning driver's choice. For van Gisbergen that charity was Wings for Life, a non-profit group researching into spinal cord injuries with the hopes of finding a cure for paraplegia.
But despite winning two races, the Kiwi had the share the spotlight with his teammate for the night Max Verstappen. The Dutch Formula 1 star was rapid across all four races at Silverstone and Catalunya; finishing second three times and rounding out the night with doughnuts on the outside of turn one at Barcelona.
"It was a lot of fun driving in the Supercars races today and it was very hectic. We got some good results in the end as well which I didn’t expect," said Verstappen. "To finish second three times is not bad at all and to get two 1-2 finishes for Red Bull with Shane is really good. We worked very well together, especially in the final race with our strategy, as he pitted a bit later and had better tyres at the end which helped us keep the 1-2.
"I want to a say a big thank you to Supercars for letting me drive in the series and also to Red Bull for organising this and the very cool livery! Hopefully I can be back soon for some more action.“
De Pasquale's win from pole in the opening 7-lap race at Silverstone was clear-cut and dominant, as a three-car battle waged behind between the two leading Red Bull entries and McLaughlin; Verstappen leading home van Gisbergen.
A fascinating four-car battle led the field to start; De Pasquale leading McLaughlin, van Gisbergen, and Verstappen. The leading trio ran nose-to-tail for the opening lap, until the Kiwi pairing ran side by side through Maggots and Becketts. Van Gisbergen appeared to have the move completed, until McLaughlin shoved inside at the Chapel right hander. This forced both drivers wide, allowing Verstappen to cheekily duck inside and grab both positions.
The leading group split into two battles; McLaughlin and van Gisbergen tagging back onto the back of Verstappen for the top four, and Andre Heimgartner, Chaz Mostert, and Garry Jacobson all dicing for fifth. Former teammates Heimgartner and Mostert spent the first four laps swapping positions with each other vigorously, until Mostert cemented his hold on the place by lap five.
And that's how the order at the front remained; Penrite Racing driver De Pasquale claiming the win by 1.5 seconds over Verstappen, van Gisbergen, McLaughlin, Mostert, Heimgartner, and Jacobson. Will Davison, Nick Percat, and Will Brown rounded out the top 10.
Race two at Silverstone, a reverse grid 9-lap race based on race one's finish order, was claimed by Cameron Waters over Jake Kostecki. It looked like the pairing would get overrun by De Pasquale and van Gisbergen, but a late clash between the two put paid to the chance of an upset.
Mark Winterbottom and Chris Pither were on the front row for the reverse grid, ahead of Jake Kostecki, Macauley Jones, and Jamie Whincup. Winterbottom got a nice start, as chaos rained mid-field. After a blinding start Fabian Coulthard tried to nip the lead off Winterbottom only to spin at Luffield.
Behind Winterbottom the incidents continued to occur. The already damaged Jones and Whincup were involved in a large crash on the back straight, which suckered in both McLaughlin (who had been observing a slow-down penalty at the time) and De Pasquale. This prompted both to stop early for repairs, which was less of a drama given the race involved a mandatory pit-stop.
The early incident and stop gave the race-one winner a lot of free space to clock quick laps, and by the time the rest of the stops shook out he was up to third place behind Kostecki and Cameron Waters (Brown and van Gisbergen fourth and fifth). Waters claimed the lead with a physical move at Stowe, with De Pasquale and van Gisbergen tagging onto the back of the lead battle.
It looked like a grandstand finish was on the cards, only for van Gisbergen to tip De Pasquale into a spin at Luffield. The Kiwi knocked De Pasquale's nose straight, which allowed both drivers to race on. But the time lost meant neither could threaten winner Waters or second-placed Kostecki. De Pasquale, van Gisbergen, McLaughlin, Brown, Winterbottom, Coulthard, Heimgartner, and Todd Hazelwood rounded out the top 10. Verstappen meanwhile limped to 17th.
The series then shifted to Catalunya for the third race; won by van Gisbergen. It was the Kiwi's first win in the BP Supercars All Stars Eseries, and he claimed it over Red Bull and Team Redline esports teammate Verstappen, with De Pasquale continuing his successful evening in third.
McLaughlin and Mostert were among the lead pack until both spun at turn one on the opening lap. Heimgartner and Waters, having both initally benefited, were knocked out of the front group with an incident of their own later in the lap. All of this left van Gisbergen and Verstappen in the leading spots over Brown, De Pasquale, and Bryce Fullwood in fifth.
Despite a chaotic first lap, the remainder of the 8-lap race was relatively straightforward. De Pasquale eventually got by Brown for third, with Verstappen never getting quite close enough to threaten van Gisbergen's lead. Eventually the 2016 champ took the win by 1.5 seconds. Fullwood, Percat, Will Davison, Heimgartner, Waters, and Kostecki completed the top 10, with Mostert and McLaughlin recovering to finish 11th and 12th.
Van Gisbergen then went on to win the longer 11-lap final race at Catalunya, leading home another Red Bull 1-2 with Verstappen finishing second following a brief battle after the pit-cycle. McLaughlin was best of the rest in third.
The finale kicked off with a huge multi-car crash at the opening two corners, which changed the complexion of the order completely. First Mostert spun, then De Pasquale spun separately. The two Commodores then acted as magnets for the rest of the grid as they sat stagnant in the middle of the track. Many cars miraculously got through without crashing, but it carved a hole through the mid-pack.
When the dust settled van Gisbergen and Verstappen had McLaughlin in tow, with Waters, Coulthard, and Heimgartner in behind. The pit-cycle would further complicate things. An early stop for Verstappen meant he was able to undercut van Gisbergen to take the lead when his teammate pitted on lap seven. By the end of lap eight, van Gisbergen had latched into the back of Verstappen and, with the help of the draft, he was able to take back first place.
That's how the leading trio remained; van Gisbergen winning by over a second. Waters and Davison made it a Tickford Racing fourth and fifth, with Kostecki, Jacobson, Heimgartner, Coulthard, and Zane Goddard completing the top 10. De Pasquale after his issues wound up finishing 14th, while Mostert was 22nd.
The series now travels to Mount Panorama for next Wednesday's event, which will be the sole venue for the evening's racing.