SvG breaks Mustang’s Supercars stranglehold
SHANE van Gisbergen has broken through to end the Ford Mustang's unbeaten run and give Holden its first win of the season in a championship rebound at Symmons Plains.
After Scott McLaughlin secured the Mustang's seventh win of the season on Saturday, van Gisbergen mounted a Holden fightback to take the second race in the Tasmanian Supersprint ahead of DJR Team Penske rival Fabian Coulthard and Erebus Motorsport's David Reynolds.
McLaughlin finished fourth in the 84-lap race - only the second time he has finished off the podium aside from his aberration at Albert Park.
Maximising his performance after starting on pole, the result delivered a massive boost for van Gisbergen in the Supercars championship standings, shooting up to fourth after entering the race in eighth spot.
The win continued Triple Eight's strong record at Symmons Plains, giving the team its 20th win from 29 races since 2007.
Van Gisbergen said it was a relief to bounce back after a luckless round at Albert Park and declared his car had taken a big step forward.
"It was good to get one back,'' van Gisbergen said.
"What an awesome race. Fabian kept getting me out of the pits and I had a good battle with him and Scotty.
"But a huge step forward for our car. Thanks to Red Bull Holden Racing Team. It's been a mega week to bounce back from that shocker last time (at Albert Park)."
While he revelled in his first win of the season, van Gisbergen said next week's round at Phillip Island would be the real test to how the Red Bull Holdens compared to the Mustangs.
"I think that will be the real telling point for the special P (parity) word we keep talking about,'' van Gisbergen said.
"I'm confident that we'll be better. When we tested there, we weren't so good. But we'll be right."
Earlier, van Gisbergen claimed his and the team's first pole position of the year in qualifying and he maximised his position at the front of the grid with a strong start off the line.
Van Gisbergen was the last of the frontrunners to make his first pit stop and when he re-joined the race found himself sandwiched between Coulthard and McLaughlin.
His wheel-to-wheel battle with McLaughlin over the next lap or two delivered some of the best combative racing of the weekend.
McLaughlin holds a 124-point advantage over teammate Coulthard in the championship, with Red Bull's Jamie Whincup 160 points behind the leader in third.
Whincup mounted a strong fightback to finish fifth after starting from 13th on the grid.