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Van Gisbergen on top in Sydney

Red Bull Ampol Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen has won the opening race of the Repco Supercars Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park, taking a comfortable 19.557s victory from Shell V-Power Racing Team’s Anton De Pasquale.

In a race of strategy, van Gisbergen with new engineer Andrew Edwards at the helm ran a three-stop strategy to come on strong at the end to first overhaul Will Brown, then De Pasquale both on a two-stoppers in the closing stages.

At the start of the 77-lap encounter, it was De Pasquale who led away from van Gisbergen off the front row as Brown and Will Davison made the moves off the start. A poor start for second row starters Tim Slade and Andre Heimgartner dropped the pair down the order, but the latter on super soft tyres took the lead on lap 8.

Van Gisbergen was the first to pit on lap 21 fitting softs, three laps before Heimgartner and De Pasquale, as the Shell V-Power Racing Team driver transitioned to super softs.

Continuing to lead the mid-portion of the race, van Gisbergen held a 11s margin from Brown and De Pasquale, before the Kiwi pitted to fit super soft tyres during his middle stint.

The predicted downpour never occurred as Brown stopped to return to softs on lap 44 for a long final stint, which failed to pay off as he fell away with 15-laps to go, finishing seventh at the end.

Chaz Mostert was to play a further part in the race after fitting super softs on lap 48.

Van Gisbergen was in a strong position once the pit stops had filtered, positioned 40s clear of De Pasquale, but he still needed to make his final stop, which he did so on lap 63. The Kiwi emerged behind Brown and De Pasquale’s battle for the lead as it fell in favour of the Shell V-Power Racing Team Ford Mustang.

Van Gisbergen was charging and succeeded in getting the lead a lap later along the main straight where he proceeded to dominate until the conclusion.

Mostert made a late race run for the podium, which proved successful when he passed Davison and Brown to move into third.

Rounding out the top 10 were Davison, Brodie Kostecki, Nick Percat, Brown, Tim Slade, Broc Feeney and James Courtney.

A power steering fault ended Scott Pye’s race early and a transaxle problem did likewise for David Reynolds.

Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters recovered from 22nd to 11th, while early race leader Heimgartner pitted late due for fuel dropping him out of the top 10.

Tomorrow’s Repco Supercars Championship action begins with qualifying at 10:50am AEDT (12:50pm NZ) before the Top 10 Shootout at 12:05pm AEDT (2:05pm NZ) and Race 2 at 2:30pm AEDT (4:30pm NZ).