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Mostert denies De Pasquale in Hidden Valley thriller

Chaz Mostert has defeated Anton De Pasquale in a thrilling Merlin Darwin Triple Crown finale.

Mostert clung onto his fourth victory of 2022 despite racing on aged tyres compared to his rivals.

The top four of Mostert, De Pasquale, Cam Waters and Will Davison were covered by just 1.4s.

The race ended in high drama, with series leader Shane van Gisbergen penalised over a clash with Davison.

Van Gisbergen and Davison interlocked wheels after a late restart, with the former picking up damage.

The reigning champion was later pinged for the incident, and was classified 21st: his worst result of the season.

De Pasquale slashed van Gisbergen’s series lead to 214 points.

The Shell V-Power Racing Team also jumped Red Bull Ampol Racing in the teams’ standings.

For Mostert, it was a remarkable turnaround after being disqualified from Saturday’s race.

“To know that everyone’s got fresh tyres behind you… we went super aggressive,” Mostert said.

“I kept Anton just at bay enough, I had nothing left.

“I don’t know how we hung on.”

De Pasquale won the race to Turn 1, with Broc Feeney dropping from third to sixth.

The drama began on the second lap, with Jayden Ojeda and Brodie Kostecki clashing on the second lap.

Kostecki picked up a puncture; Ojeda picked up front right suspension damage, and dropped several laps.

Mostert stopped on lap 9 and raced into clean air.

All the while, De Pasquale and Davison dropped their rivals; Waters was two seconds back, with van Gisbergen a further 1.4s back.

Feeney stopped on lap 15; by then, van Gisbergen had caught Waters and made the overtake at Turn 6.

De Pasquale pitted on lap 19 and rejoined five seconds behind Mostert.

However, De Pasquale went under investigation for a pit lane infringement.

De Pasquale ran over a rattle gun hose with his left rear wheel.

Van Gisbergen took on three tyres on lap 22, a lap after Waters took on four tyres.

On lap 23, Davison, like his teammate, took on four tyres. By then, De Pasquale had halved the margin to Mostert.

The margin was completely wiped out when the BP Ultimate Safety Car was triggered following a clash between Garry Jacobson and Zak Best.

A Turn 5 dive by Best ended up with the duo clashing on the run to Turn 6, Best’s damaged car coming to a halt in the outfield.

Jacobson was slapped with a drive-through penalty over his role in the incident.

It left Mostert vulnerable to attack when the race restarted on lap 30.

Van Gisbergen and Davison interlocked at Turn 1, allowing Feeney and Waters through.

Davison settled into fifth; van Gisbergen, meanwhile, suffered power steering damage.

Van Gisbergen quickly dropped to the rear of the field, and was also placed under investigation for the Davison contact.

The points leader was hit with a 15-second time penalty for the incident.

De Pasquale haunted the rear of Mostert; it brought Feeney, Waters and Davison into the equation.

With three laps remaining, the top five were covered by just 1.5s; Waters got by Feeney at Turn 1 on lap 37.

De Pasquale did all he could in the closing laps to unseat Mostert, but it was to avail.

The official margin at the end was 0.95s, with Waters 0.14s behind after a final-corner De Pasquale error.

Davison, Andre Heimgartner, Feeney, Will Brown, Jake Kostecki, Mark Winterbottom and Nick Percat rounded out the top 10.

The 2022 season will resume at the NTI Townsville 500 next month.