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Talking points from Supercars’ Townsville 500

Supercars’ adventure in the warmth of the north continued with more entertaining racing in the unofficial capital of Far North Queensland at the Townsville 500 and on the Reid Park hybrid circuit.

Another sweep for the championship leader, though with some spirited battles across the weekend, as well as a welcome return of long distance racing in Supercars – here are the talking points from the Townsville 500.

SVG hunts down Davison on Saturday

Pole sitter for Race 19 in Shane van Gisbergen came back to overhaul Shell V-Power Racing’s Will Davison for a 10th win of the season, as well as an astonishing ninth on the streets of Townsville.

Davison vaulted into the lead at the start, before ultimately both fell to the speedy Tim Slade on the supersoft tyres – who had started ninth. Van Gisbergen did get a place back on Davison by Lap 14, while Slade led from David Reynolds – also on supersofts.

The 88-lap of strategy saw different avenues explored by the teams, with the championship leader having taken on more fuel during his first stop on Lap 31 than his rivals.

Getting the extra fuel in now, did mean more work for van Gisbergen in the middle stint – however rewarded the Kiwi in the final stint to have a short fill along with supersoft tyres.

Dick Johnson Racing brought Davison in on Lap 55 for his final stop, bolting on the supersofts which saw pull out an almighty lead over Chaz Mostert and Slade, who was now on the hard compound.

Van Gisbergen made his final stop with 25 laps to go and a 17-second deficit to the race leader in Davison. The Red Bull Commodore quickly overhauled Slade and then Mostert, before on Lap 84 reaching Davison. A superb move coming out of the final corner, with superior grip and traction saw the Kiwi strip the lead from Davison.

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Finishing 5.1-seconds clear of Davison, it was Cameron Waters who completed the podium having caught up to André Heimgartner, who in the final stint had relegated the likes of Slade and Mostert.

Last lap tangle sees SVG have last laugh

Van Gisbergen swept the Townsville 500 with victory in Race 20, but it came in controversial circumstances as a final-lap clash between the Red Bull Commodore and Anton De Pasquale saw the Shell V-Power Mustang penalised.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

De Pasquale had the strategic upper hand over van Gisbergen, which was reflected in the final stint as the 26-year-old made significant gains on the two-time Supercars champion ahead of the chequered flag.

Both cars had pitted on Lap 61 for supersoft tyres, but the Shell V-Power Mustang had the pace and on the final lap made the bold lunge down the inside of the final corner, where he tagged van Gisbergen’s rear and spun the Red Bull Commodore.

What ensued was dramatic, as De Pasquale slowed before the finish line to redress the ill-fated move on van Gisbergen, though the Kiwi was cunning in parking up behind his rival to see the chequered flag second and drawing the attention of Race Control.

In Parc Fermé, De Pasquale attempted to discuss the matter with van Gisbergen, to which the Kiwi gave a firm cold shoulder – before giving credit to the Shell V-Power racer for having a crack in the post-race interviews.

A five-second time penalty was applied to De Pasquale for a driving infringement, as the win was awarded to van Gisbergen. The Shell V-Power Mustang almost on race time, ending up in the clutches of polesitter Waters, who’d rounded up teammate James Courtney and Mostert for another podium.

Van Gisbergen’s perfect 300-point weekend meant that he extended his lead in the championship overall, with the deficit to De Pasquale back out to 274 points.

Anton de Pasquale

Anton de Pasquale (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Pain for Pye again

Sadly it has become a recurring theme in the 2022 Supercars championship, that Scott Pye is involved in a weekend-ending incident and that trend continued through to Race 20, as the 32-year-old was wiped out on the opening lap.

From eighth on the grid, earnt via Top Ten Shootout, Pye was running up near the third-placed Davison on the opening lap whilst running to the first major braking point at Turn 3. Having taken too much of the inside kerb at Turn 3, the Nulon Commodore ran the Shell V-Power Mustang wide into the wall – only for Pye to get T-boned.

A Safety Car was triggered as a result, as an animated Davison dropped to the rear of the field – but the consequences were worse for Pye having recorded a fourth non-classified result of the season.

This adds to the unlucky Race 17 shunt that Pye was involved in at Darwin with Courtney, which saw the Team 18 car withdrawn from the final race of the weekend, as well as a weekend ending Race 11 in Perth and another non-classified result at Winton.

Further pain too for team owner Charlie Schwerkolt, who faces another damage bill on the account of the Nulon Commodore. The Townsville round for Team 18 sadly being a miserable one, as 2015 Supercars champion Mark Winterbottom recorded a lowly result in 25th, before rebounding for a top 10 in Race 20.

Golding gets second main game chance

It was rather surprising and sudden following the Darwin Triple Crown that Supercars newcomers in PremiAir Racing had dumped the underwhelming Garry Jacobson from its driver lineup.

Former Super2 champion Jacobson found himself at PremiAir née Team Sydney, following an unsuccessful stint at Matt Stone Racing for the past two seasons. Apart from a trio of top-10 finishes at the Melbourne 400 at Albert Park, Jacobson had finished no higher than 14th and sat 25th in the standings.

The vacancy did allow for the highly-rated James Golding however, to make his full-time return to Supercars since losing out on a seat following the departure of Garry Rogers Motorsport at the end of 2019.

Golding has raced in S5000 for GRM, finishing third in the Tasman Series overall in 2021 – as well as linking up with Team 18 in Supercars for Bathurst 1000 gigs. The 26-year-old with Winterbottom netted eighth in the 2020 race, while was cruelled by a retirement in 2021.

Instead of suiting up for Charlie Schwerkolt’s operation for another Bathurst 1000 this year, Golding takes the reigns of the Subway Commodore. Getting off to perhaps not the greatest start in Race 19, when the Victorian was launched by Courtney on the grid for which the 2010 Supercars champion was given a 15-second time penalty.

Return to long-distance racing

It’s most likely that these talking points have previously expressed how good long-distance racing is in Supercars, but why not discuss it again off the back of two enthralling 250km races in Townsville.

As good as the SuperSprint format can be, it would be nicer to see more of a mix between the two formats – or better yet, bring back the Enduro Cup. Originally canned due to restrictions enforced by the pandemic, however as Supercars returns to a full schedule it would be great to see the season of endurance return.

Having the multiple tyre compounds created a great strategy contest between the teams and even gave opportunity for a bit of creativity, as seen with Blanchard Racing and Slade having started Race 19 on the supersoft tyre. It may have only meant the CoolDrive Mustang finished one position up from where it started, but seeing Slade lead early would’ve had the hard tyre runners scratching their heads.

The addition of fuel and a tyre offset definitely leaves one pondering how the race will shape out, but it is a welcome dimension amongst the occasional tedium of tyre saving across a SuperSprint weekend. It may not appeal to all casual viewers, who might enjoy the short and sharp races – but there will be the fans out there who want to chew on the fat of some strategy.

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