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Kostecki wins entertaining Tailem Bend opener

THE curse has been broken.

For the first time in the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship, the driver carrying the orange numbers has won a race.

It wasn’t easy, though.

Brodie Kostecki dominated qualifying to secure pole position, but quickly found himself down in third.

That came as Thomas Randle and Chaz Mostert made sensational starts from second and fifth, respectively, to make it a Ford one-two by Turn 1 as chaos kicked off behind.

At the centre of it was Will Brown, whose title hopes were dented by a damaging first-corner incident.

Brown found himself on the outside of a gaggle of cars, and was spun as Jack Le Brocq – ironically his Erebus Motorsport replacement for 2024 – as the Matt Stone Racing driver was squeezed between Brown and Nick Percat.

Brown spun into Percat who was able to continue, but there was to be more collateral damage as Cameron Hill checked up to dodge the mess and was collected heavily by Jack Smith.

That brought out the Safety Car, with Brown, Hill and Smith all stopping on-track.

The matter was soon deemed a racing incident, and the race restarted on Lap 5 with question marks over the wellbeing of Percat and Fullwood’s cars.

Broc Feeney, James Courtney, Le Brocq, Fullwood and Scott Pye pitted at the first opportunity to do so, at the end of Lap 5 while the lead quintet pressed on.

At the front it remained Randle from Mostert, Kostecki, Shane van Gisbergen and Cam Waters.

Looking speedy, Kostecki pounced on Mostert on Lap 7 to move into second, with Randle firmly in his sights.

Despite some stern defence from Randle, Kostecki was then able to grab the lead with a lunge on Lap 11, Tickford Racing responding by immediately bringing in the #55 Castrol Mustang for its compulsory pitstop.

Brodie Kostecki in the lead. Pic: Ross Gibb

Mostert followed Randle into the lane, and was right on his tail as the duo returned to the racetrack.

That left one key play to come: Kostecki’s pitstop.

The #99 Coca-Cola Camaro stopped for two tyres on Lap 13 of 20, and re-emerged with a narrow lead over Randle.

Sensing an opportunity while Kostecki was potentially vulnerable on cold tyres, Mostert launched an aggressive pass on Randle at Turn 6.

The Walkinshaw Andretti United star made it stick, and was cleared of any wrongdoing in a mid-race investigation, leaving Randle to fend off teammate Waters for his maiden solo podium as Kostecki won by 1.7188s.

Behind the top four, it was van Gisbergen, Feeney, Matt Payne, Courtney, Will Davison and Andre Heimgartner.

Courtney picked up an additional five points for fastest lap.

Kostecki is now 80 points clear atop the standings, with van Gisbergen and Feeney leapfrogging Brown into second and third respectively.

Results: Race 1, 2023 OTR SuperSprint

199Brodie KosteckiErebusChevrolet20 laps
225Chaz MostertWAUFord+1.7188s
355Thomas RandleTickfordFord+3.0923s
46Cam WatersTickfordFord+3.4033s
597Shane van GisbergenTriple EightChevrolet+6.0105s
688Broc FeeneyTriple EightChevrolet+7.9215s
719Matthew PayneGroveFord+8.146s
85James CourtneyTickfordFord+10.462s
917Will DavisonDJRFord+11.6876s
108Andre HeimgartnerBJRChevrolet+12.9612s
1111Anton De PasqualeDJRFord+13.6328s
123Todd HazelwoodBRTFord+14.2767s
1326David ReynoldsGroveFord+15.3438s
1431James GoldingPremiAirChevrolet+18.8586s
1534Jack Le BrocqMSRChevrolet+19.4389s
1623Tim SladePremiAirChevrolet+21.2714s
1718Mark WinterbottomTeam 18Chevrolet+21.5876s
182Nick PercatWAUFord+22.2189s
1956Declan FraserTickfordFord+22.821s
2096Macauley JonesBJRChevrolet+24.2425s
2114Bryce FullwoodBJRChevrolet+25.8942s
2220Scott PyeTeam 18Chevrolet+26.7526s
239Will BrownErebusChevroletNTR
2435Cameron HillMSRChevroletNTR
254Jack SmithBJRChevroletNTR
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