Motorsport: Van Gisbergen survives carnage to win in Darwin

Shane Van Gisbergen leads Tim Slade during the V8 Super Supercars race in Darwin. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen leads Tim Slade during the V8 Super Supercars race in Darwin. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's Shane van Gisbergen has survived to win a wild race in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in Darwin today.

It is van Gisbergen's second victory of the season after claiming Holden's 500th win at Tasmania earlier in the season. More importantly he managed to convert after grabbing the pole position following the Top 10 Shootout, after failing to achieve a podium after earning pole on Saturday.

"It was an amazing day. It's been great all weekend. The car has been awesome and to come back with a win today after yesterday's mistake was great," van Gisbergen said.

"It was tough at the start. We had no grip at all but then it came on and it was awesome. I'm stoked to win again."

It was generally a strong day for the Kiwi drivers with four in the top-12 led by van Gisbergen with Scott McLaughlin seventh, Chris Pither 11th and Andre Heimgartner 12th.

The unfortunate New Zealander was Fabian Coulthard, who had no fortune in qualifying, to start 15th on the grid, and was involved in a massive incident on the opening lap which ended his race.

"A case of wrong place at the wrong time. Moff (James Moffatt) kept coming across on me and I was not too sure how far Mozzie (Chaz Mostert) was up next to me. I felt like I was in a pin ball machine and ended up in the wall," Coulthard said.

"I hate creating unnecessary work for the boys and feel sorry for them the most. I am OK but the car will need a lot of work before Townsville."

The performances have cemented the championship hopes for both McLaughlin and van Gisbergen, who are third and fifth respectively, with today's winner only 71 points from leader and teammate Jamie Whincup.

Van Gisbergen made an outstanding job of the Top-10 Shootout to grab pole but like Saturday he was beaten off start, this time by Todd Kelly in the Nissan. The Red Bull Racing driver could only emerge from pit lane in fourth place after a lengthy safety car period to extricate Lee Holdsworth from his vehicle in that first lap destruction.

However van Gisbergen worked his way back to second and then fooled his experienced teammate Craig Lowndes on a restart to claim the lead. Once the fuel stops played out, the Kiwi controlled the race, including a late safety car and the attentions from last-start double winner, Tim Slade, who finishes second ahead of Lowndes.

McLaughlin was never fully on the pace this weekend, fighting an over-steering issue, but drove strongly in a brutal battle for the minor placings for a solid weekend effort.

It proved an excellent return for the Super Black Racing team with Pither finishing 14th on Saturday and 11th today to move to 22nd in the Championship as they continue to move north as the season progresses.

However it was another weekend to forget for Coulthard. He was stalled by van Gisbergen and then by the late barrage from cars on to the track in his two main attempts for a fast qualifying lap. It pushed him into the mid-pack on the grid where he was within the grasp of mayhem.

His team will face some long hours to have the car ready for the next round in Townsville in two weeks time.

- NZ Herald

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