Watch: Shane van Gisbergen wins 2020 Supercars Eseries championship
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Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen has won the 2020 BP Supercars All Stars Eseries after a win and a top five at the night's two races at Oran Park and Mount Panorama. It's van Gisbergen's second Supercars title, complementing his 2016 championship crown; obtained with the help of eight pole positions and 14 race wins, including victory at the category's return to (a virtual) Oran Park.
The other race winner of the evening was wildcard driver Harley Haber. The Valvoline ace was under pressure at Bathurst until a late-race clash between the chasing van Gisbergen and Anton De Pasquale [video below].
Van Gisbergen started from pole for the opening 27-lap race at Oran Park, holding a 78-point lead over McLaughlin entering the evening. The Shell Mustang pilot would start from sixth behind Brodie Kostecki, De Pasquale, Harley Haber, and Chaz Mostert. Kostecki and Haber were the leading wildcard entrants, with Bathurst winners Craig Lowndes and Jonathon Webb among the other wildcards on the grid.
Van Gisbergen won the start with Kostecki dropping back before making contact with Haber at turn two. Haber spun, causing a multi-car shunt through the mid-pack. At the end of the lap, the order was van Gisbergen, De Pasquale, Kostecki, and McLaughlin. McLaughlin was the first of the leaders to make their first stop, peeling off on lap seven. Van Gisbergen responded by pitting the next lap. Kostecki was the last of the leaders to make their first stop on lap 11; slotting neatly in the tight gap between De Pasquale and McLaughlin where he had been previously.
Following a conventional middle stint, McLaughlin made his second stop on lap 17, giving him a 10-lap run to the flag. Van Gisbergen once again stopped a lap later. De Pasquale was the major benefactor, closing right up to the 2016 series champ after his second stop. With Kostecki once again inserting himself into third after his second stop, the order was set for the finish; van Gisbergen leading De Pasquale by half a second , Kostecki, McLaughlin, and Mostert to extend his championship lead. Jack Le Brocq, Broc Feeney, Cameron Waters, the recovering Haber, and Garry Jacobson completed the top 10.
It meant that, in order to win the title at the final 14-lap race at Bathurst, McLaughlin would need to bridge a huge 108-point gap to van Gisbergen with 150 on the table. They started the finale in fourth and seventh respectively. Kostecki was on pole alongside Haber, with De Pasquale in front of van Gisbergen, and Mostert and Jacobson tucked in behind.
Haber, from the outside, snatched the lead at turn one to take the lead. Apart from a clash between Will Davison, Bryce Fullwood, and Fabian Coulthard in the mid-pack it was a relatively clean opening lap. By the end of it, Haber led Kostecki, De Pasquale, van Gisbergen, Mostert, and McLaughlin.
Kostecki was the first of the leaders to stop, doing so on lap four in the hopes of finding an undercut on Haber. And when Haber stopped a lap later, Kostecki was able to get the position.
De Pasquale stopped with Kostecki, and he rejoined right behind Haber, too. McLaughlin's grasp of a spot in the top five was hit when the defending series champ crashed at pit-entry. He was able to recover, but it cost the Kiwi time. At almost the same time, Haber made an impressive dive on Kostecki at Griffins Bend to steal the lead. Kostecki suffered a half-spin, but only lost one further spot to De Pasquale.
Van Gisbergen stopped at the end of lap six, rejoining in third ahead of Kostecki. As the race wore on, it became clear that Haber and De Pasquale would make their second stops early and van Gisbergen would be making his late. Van Gisbergen finally pulled in to make his second stop at the end of lap 10, resuming the race third a few seconds away from the leaders.
It looked initially like the move would see Haber and De Pasquale battle for the lead alone, but a mistake for De Pasquale changed all of that. Exiting Forest Elbow on lap 11, the Erebus driver clipped the outside wall. This sent him wide into the grass. This dropped him off the back of Haber, and into the clutches of the van Gisbergen.
The Red Bull driver was the quickest driver on track, and was catching both leaders anyway. The battle came to a head on the penultimate lap at Forest Elbow, as van Gisbergen tried to make a move up the inside of Forest Elbow.
The pair made contact; De Pasquale locking his inside front tyre and van Gisbergen skating with all for tyres locked. De Pasquale spun, and van Gisbergen waited for him to recover in order to redress the incident. The drama let Haber drive away with a deserved win, with Kostecki and Mostert sneaking by for second and third. De Pasquale ended up fourth, with van Gisbergen in fifth. Feeney, Zak Best, Andre Heimgartner, Waters, and Nick Percat rounded out the top 10.
McLaughlin had been in line to finish in the top 10, but a last-lap crash and engine failure saw him fail to finish (despite the best efforts of teammate Coulthard to push him home down Conrod Straight).
The series now prepares for its real-world return in three week's time on June 27-28 at Sydney Motorsport Park.