AS the only driver combination to finish on the podium in all four endurance races in the 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars season, Red Bull Racing Australia’s Shane Van Gisbergen and Alex Premat took out the Pirtek Enduro Cup.
The action packed endurance season concluded on the streets of the Gold Coast with two 300 kilometre races around the tight concrete lined Surfers Paradise circuit.
Saturday’s first race of the weekend (Race 22 of the championship) was a car destroyer with Jack LeBrocq (No. 6 Monster Energy Ford) the first victim of the concrete walls on lap 21, resulting in the first of many safety car interventions that dictated the strategy for the race.
Controversy would follow much later in the race however, with the coming together of Fabian Coulthard and Garth Tander on lap 95. Tander earned himself a drive through penalty and a ten grid spot penalty for Sunday’s race for his part in the incident, while Coulthard’s DJR Team Penske crew had to pull an all-nighter to get the car rebuilt after significant damage to the No. 12 Falcon. The team finished the job just in time to have the car back on track for Sunday’s race.
An alternative strategy by Prodrive Racing Australia, who to put their main driver Mark Winterbottom in the Bottle-O Racing car for the start of the race, almost paid dividends for the team, who finished fourth. Winterbottom charged past the co-drivers (with all the other teams electing to start secondary drivers), who had to complete the majority of the race with the pit stops due to safety car interventions.
Out in front Red Bull’s Shane Van Gisbergen wasn’t to be challenged. Leading the race from start to finish with co-driver Alex Premat. Scott McLaughlin (partnered with David Wall) and Jamie Whincup (partnered with Paul Dumbrell) duked it out for the places on the podium. With the Volvo pair claiming the upper hand to finish second.
Sunday’s second race of the weekend was short one starter, with the Erebus Holden Commodore of rookie pairing of Shae Davis and Chris Van Der Drift failing to make the start after crashing in qualifying.
The race itself would be less dramatic, with only one appearance of the safety car, when SuperBlack Racing’s Richie Stanaway (partnered with main driver Chris Pither) damaged his car after a failed passing attempt on the No. 22 Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Out in front Red Bull Racing Australia would again dominate with Whincup and Dumbrell leading the race from start to finish. A late challenge by an extremely fast Shane Van Gisbergen in the second Red Bull Commodore was halted after the flying Kiwi had to redress two questionable passing moves as he made his way through the field.
Van Gisbergen did however make his way up to second, while passing move of the year would go to Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin, diving down the inside of Winterbottom to claim the final spot on the podium.
A successful endurance campaign sees Van Gisbergen take the lead in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with just two rounds left to run. The championship continues in two weeks at New Zealand’s Pukekohe Park just outside of Auckland.
Rhys Vandersyde is a freelance photographer and media professional, based in Sydney. A specialist in motor sport and automotive imagery, his past work includes Formula 1, the World Rally Championship, Supercars and GT racing across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. All images have been supplied by Rhys Vandersyde and Rhys Vandersyde | vandersyde.com.