THE Repco Mount Panorama 500 didn’t provide the type of drama that October’s Bathurst 1000 is known for, but it has earned a unique place in the Supercars record books.
Sunday’s 40-lap, 250km race was completed by winner Shane van Gisbergen in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 39 seconds, making for an average speed of 172.08km/h.
That is the highest average speed of any race held on Australian soil in the 61-year history of the Australian Touring Car/Supercars Championship.
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It was achieved in a race devoid of Safety Car interventions. The race did, however, feature two compulsory pit stops that included a minimum 120 litre fuel drop.
The previous fastest ATCC/Supercars race held in Australia was the second encounter at Phillip Island in 2015, a 14-lapper won by Jamie Whincup with a 171.25km/h average.
New Zealand’s Pukekohe circuit still holds the fastest three races in championship history, headed by the opening race in 2005 that was won by Greg Murphy with a 175.85km/h average.
Van Gisbergen was in dominant form at the Mount Panorama 500, winning both races aboard his Red Bull Ampol Racing Commodore.
It’s the third time in five years he’s won the opening two races of the season, having taken similar doubles at the Adelaide 500 in 2017 and ’18.
Van Gisbergen’s double Adelaide triumphs are featured in our book Sensational Adelaide: The Illustrated History of the Adelaide 500.
The 400-page, hardcover collector’s book brings all 22 years of the event to life through stunning photographs, stories and statistics.
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The Kiwi is now the fourth driver to win three championship races in a row at Bathurst having taken last October’s Great Race alongside Garth Tander.
John Bowe (1996 sprint races), Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup (2006-08 Bathurst 1000s) are the others to have achieved the feat.
Just like in last October’s Bathurst 1000, van Gisbergen’s latest triumph came after he outgunned the Monster Energy Mustang of Cameron Waters.
Polesitter van Gisbergen lost the lead to Waters off the start but regained the track position during the first round of pit stops.
A series of quick laps in the second stint then allowed the Holden driver to build enough of a gap to maintain his place through the second stops.
“That middle stint was just insane. It was so cool to get such a good car and push in clean air,” beamed van Gisbergen, whose car is being engineered by David Cauchi this year.
“Cauchi just asked me to make the gap; normally here you’re managing tyres and I only had to do eight laps on those tyres, so it was just qualifying laps the whole time.
“Watching a sub-par energy drink get smaller in the mirror was pretty cool!”
Race 2 marked van Gisbergen’s 42nd career Supercars Championship race win, while Waters and Chaz Mostert scored their 20th and 60th podiums respectively in second and third.