Red Bull Holdens van Gisbergen triumphs in Bathurst

Red Bull Holdens van Gisbergen triumphs in Bathurst
Red Bull Holdens van Gisbergen triumphs in Bathurst
Bathurst always delivers drama and tension, heartbreak and an unpredictable narrative, and this year was no exception.

There was an early surprise on lap 33 when multiple race winner Jamie Whincup, one of the most skilled men in the field, retired and ensured that neither he nor his veteran partner Craig Lowndes would add to their Bathurst record.

Waters and McLauglin, who won the Tailem Bend championship for the third consecutive year on the lap before Bathurst, ruled, but Van Gisbergen took the lead on lap 55 when it started raining.

From that point on, he and Tander were in control, although they had to go through some scary moments, no more than at the end of a race that they seemed to be holding onto when the safety car came out to grab the field twice the last nine laps.

Kiwi rider van Gisbergen kept his rivals in check after the first restart, but his heart sank when it stalled again due to an accident on the track.

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With three laps to go, he knew that he had to cope with the restart flawlessly, otherwise Waters would take advantage and finally secure victory.

There was little between them, but the 31-year-old, whom his team principal Roland Dane described as one of the smartest drivers on the grid when it came to managing every aspect of the race, handled the tense situation calmly.

He drove three quick laps in qualifying to hold off his rivals when a nervous tander watched from the team’s garage.

In the end, van Gisbergen took the checkered flag 0.8 seconds ahead of Waters, who was on the podium for the first time in his career.

It was a bittersweet occasion for Holden fans, as van Gisbergen’s boss Dane alluded to after the race.

Straight ahead and narrow: Holden drivers lead the field down the famous Conrod Straight on Mount Panorama.Recognition:Edge photography

The car company will no longer be a brand in Australia after parent company General Motors decided to exit the local market. One episode will be the end of the traditional Ford-Holden rivalry in Bathurst.

van Gisbergen started his winning lap with a Holden flag and stated that his feeling of winning a race was “great”.

“The last few laps were really tough with the safety cars, but the team did a flawless job and the car got better all weekend so thanks to my guys,” he said.

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“We had a great car and it’s a great way to send out Holden. Thanks to Garth, he did a great job. I just wish my mom and dad were here. ”

He said he was confident he could keep Waters in check if he could survive the second corner after the restart.

“He got pretty close every time, but (I) got through Turn 2 with a good grip so I knew I would be fine. These last three stints were just qualifying laps.

“It was a real track race, super difficult to overtake, and when that rain came I was a bit slow at the start, but then it started. That brought us forward and we never left it. Great day.”

McLaughlin won the championship, but Whincup’s failure and Water’s second place on the mountain mean the 25-year-old from Mildura moves up to second in the title race standings, van Gisbergen jumps to third and Whincup to fourth slips off.

Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief football reporter and also covers motorsports and horse racing

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