It had been billed as the old guard versus the young pretender, but it was Shane van Gisbergen who stole the thunder of Greg Murphy and Scott McLaughlin with a dominant round win at the new-look Pukekohe Park Raceway and laid claim to be the new ‘King’ of the legendary circuit.
In a race day absolutely packed with incident and drama, it was the international drivers – almost matched by an on-form Ant Pedersen – who demonstrated their prowess in changeable and challenging conditions on the circuit throughout the day.
Both Race 1 and Race 2 were stopped and restarted after major incident. In the first race Ash Walsh was shunted hard into the wall and took no further part in the meeting, that accident also eliminating Andy Booth in the Woodstock Racing Holden and giving Angus Fogg’s mechanics a very busy afternoon. Race 2 was stopped after Richard Moore was tagged from behind heading into turn three , spun and hit very hard by Simon McLennan in the M2 Motorsport Holden, launching the red and white car high into the air and wiping off a corner of the M3 Racing Holden. Race 3 was thankfully incident free.
Pole position, wins in Race 1 and Race 2 plus second place to Murph in the feature race were enough to give van Gisbergen a clear round win and he enjoyed the experience.
“You have a lot of grip with this tyre and it allows the driver to attack throughout a race rather than being at the mercy of the tyre,” he said. “You can really go full on throughout the race and that’s what the guys at the front were doing this weekend. A lot of fun and the result is great for the team and myself.”
Race 1 – Van Gisbergen wins dramatic first race
Shane van Gisbergen won a dramatic opening first race of the Brother 350 event – the third round of the 2013 BNT V8 SuperTourer series – to take his maiden win in the series.
It was chaos from warm-up lap with front row starter Scott McLaughlin losing it on green tyres on the warm up lap and somehow finding his way back for a pit-lane start with running repairs. The drama continued at the green light as a tightly bunched lead pack let rip – but over a damp part of the track – on the front straight. Ant Pedersen and Angus Fogg made contact, pitching the Property Tutors Holden hard left and into Ash Walsh. Walsh was pitched hard into the barriers and both cars spun up the track, with Walsh out on the spot and Fogg limping around to the pits to retire.
The incident also left Andy Booth with terminal damage. When Dom Storey – who had jumped to third in the mayhem of the start – went into the barriers the red came out and the cars came round to the grid awaiting a full restart, which was good news for McLaughlin as he was able to resume his original position on the front row. “It makes a change for the luck to go our way,”
Even before the restart, Simon Evans pulled over with mechanical problems. Then just one lap into the restart Mitch Cunningham was hugely lucky to drive away from an almighty after Ford Mountain only to lose it at turn three and hit the barriers, bringing out the Safety Car again.
Through it all emerged pole sitter Shane van Gisbergen, who drove faultlessly in very tricky conditions to take his first win in BNT V8 SuperTourers and continue his stellar season of V8 racing on both sides of the Tasman. Greg Murphy finished second after passing McLaughlin during the race. The champion was satisfied with his best finish of the season so far in third – thanking his lucky stars the restart gave him a second chance after his warm up lap spin.
“It was all about keeping temperature in my tyres there were so many wet patches. It was the first real running any of us done this weekend on dry tyres and our car was really good. Murph was really pushing hard and I could see lots of movement in his car. Yes it was pretty cool to win but there are still two races to go.”
Johnny McIntyre looked odds on for fourth but spun it all away with two laps to go – blaming the error solely on himself. “I was lucky to get back on track and recover to be honest,” he concluded, having salvaged the points for thirteenth place.
RACE 2 – Shane scores again as mayhem continues
Shane van Gisbergen made it two out of two at Pukekohe today, leading from lights to flag to win race two in a dramatic Brother 350, the third round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers.
At the initial start they all made it around the first corner with the exception of Angus Fogg who speared off without contact. Into the turn two and three complex, however, and Richard Moore was hit from behind and spun around into the on-coming pack. Simon McLennan was first on the scene and hit the M3 Racing machine hard, ripping out the passenger side rear corner and putting both cars out on the spot.
Out came the red flag and the second full restart of the day. After a delay whilst the mess was cleaned up the cars got going again – thankfully in dry conditions but still with the streams of water affecting the surface at several points on the track.
Van Gisbergen was quickly into his stride and although Greg Murph pushed him very hard early on, as soon as SVG got enough temperature in his tyres, he was gone, looking smooth and composed in very challenging conditions.
After initially attacking him and even having a couple of lunges for the lead, Murphy started to fall back. Ant Pedersen had passed Scott McLaughlin for third early in the race, and was now reeling in Murphy. Dan Gaunt was going well in fifth, revelling in new tyres, and Johnny Mac was making handy progress in sixth too.
Behind them, there was a cracking race developing for the remaining places in the top ten – with Andre Heimgartner, Bell, Simon Evans, Dominic Storey, Kayne Scott and Mitch Cunningham all nose to tail for the majority of the race.
Bell spun on lap 15 bringing out the safety car for three laps before SVG nailed another great restart and sealed the win, cruising home in the last couple of laps as Murph had his mirrors full of Pedersen. McLaughlin continued in a lonely fourth while John McIntyre pulled off the pass of the race around the outside of Gaunt heading up to the mountain to take a well-earned fifth.
Daniel Gaunt was sixth – still in recovery mode after a slow start to the weekend – while Andre Heimgartner, Simon Evans, Dominic Storey and returnee Kayne Scott in the United Videos Ford Falcon bagged tenth place.
Tim Edgell – unclassified but running – had suffered an oil leak but once a trip to the pits had sorted the problem, he was consistent and quick right through to the end,
Race 3 – Murph fights back
Greg Murphy put the young guns in their places in the final race of the Brother 350 at Pukekohe Park raceway this afternoon, but it was not enough to spoil Shane van Gisbergen taking the round.
Murphy passed SVG around the outside of Turn 1 to establish himself an early lead in the 32 lap race and from that moment on was able to edge away in a race thankfully absent of safety cars and red flags. van Gisbergen gave chase, but was unable to deliver the clean sweep.
Scott McLaughlin was third in the race having battled throughout with Ant Pedersen and simply delighted to have made the finish in all three races and taken a big points haul to propel himself back into the 2013 championship. After a long three weeks travelling and racing in Austin, Texas in the V8 SUpercars and then flying back for the Brother 350, both McLaughlin and van Gisbergen looked ready for a long rest, but like Murphy, both admitted to enjoying the intense competition of the evenly matched V8 SuperTourers.
“It was full on and that is very satisfying as a driver,” van Gisbergen said. “We’re racing hard out there.”
Andre Heimgartner capped a clean weekend with a fine fifth place, while Paul Manuell had a quiet run to sixth behind him. Daniel gaunt started strongly but faded towards the end and had to be content with a seventh place finish. The Tasman Motorsports ace never quite recovered from a below-par qualifying run.
Tim Edgell, Dominic Storey and Eddie Bell rounded out the top ten. Richard Moore’s crew did an amazing job to get him back out for the final race, but a late puncture relegated him to 13th and last of the classified runners.
Championship Positions – Top Five
1. Greg Murphy 1840
2. Ant Pedersen 1632
3. Shane van Gisbergen 1394
4. Daniel Gaunt 1322
5. Richard Moore 1042