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Race report
Supercars Townsville

Townsville Supercars: De Pasquale breaks Ford win drought

A Ford Mustang finally crossed the line first in a Gen3 Supercars race, Anton De Pasquale scoring a breakthrough win in Townsville.

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De Pasquale executed a three-stop strategy, helped slightly by an early safety car, to secure the first proper Gen3 win for a Ford driver.

Cam Waters did technically win the season-opener in Newcastle, however that was only after the Triple Eight Camaros were excluded for a non-performance technical breach.

Since then it's been a Camaro whitewash, before this breakthrough victory for De Pasquale in the 16th race of the season.

Still, with questions over parity, De Pasquale was one of just two Fords in the top 12 of today's race.

Cam Waters didn't make the best of the getaways from pole, but was able to hold off Jack Le Brocq and Thomas Randle and keep the lead at turn 2.

For five laps he was headed the field before coming under fire from Le Brocq again, this time at turn 10. The Matt Stone Racing driver dived a little too deep, though, Waters cleverly giving Le Brocq room to run wide before sweeping back into the lead.

Behind the top two there was movement as De Pasquale worked his way into third place. Randle went backwards, meanwhile, as Andre Heimgartner and Erebus pair Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown moved into fourth, fifth and sixth.

De Pasquale ran third until committing to a three-stop strategy by pitting on lap 14.

Waters continued to lead until lap 22 when he made his first stop, at which point Heimgartner eased past Le Brocq to take second.

Le Brocq responded by pitting a lap later, Heimgartner then leading until he made his first stop on lap 29.

De Pasquale eventually became the effective leader over Waters, although the latter had the freedom of a two-stopper if it proved to be quicker.

Momentum swung back to the former on lap 36, though, when debris on the exit of turn 8 sparked a safety car.

The entire top order hit the lane for a second stop, De Pasquale able to retain his effective lead, as best of those to have stopped twice, from Waters and Le Brocq, now all basically on the same strategy.

It took De Pasquale just a single lap after the restart to pass non-stoppers Will Davison, Bryce Fullwood and Brown and take over the outright race lead.

Waters, meanwhile, went the other way, losing spots to both Red Bull Camaros after the restart as he was eventually shuffled to the back of the top 10 with huge degradation.

That effectively left it as a battle between the best of the three-stoppers led by De Pasquale, while a sharp second stint from Feeney saw him filter out in second as the second round of stops shook out.

He did have to pit slightly earlier than the likes of Heimgartner, though, the Kiwi able to grab second place with 20 laps to run thanks to better tyre condition.

Feeney then lost third to Kostecki who had set himself up for a rapid run to the flag. Once through Feeney, Kostecki went after Heimgartner, the pair staging a neat battle over second until Kostecki got through with 11 laps to go.

Kostecki did close the gap to De Pasquale as the laps counted down, but was powerless to stop De Pasquale from securing victory for the Blue Oval, a day after electrical gremlins left him at the back of the field.

"It's awesome; it's been an average year so far," he said. "The guys worked all night fixing the problems from yesterday, so I had an amazing car today. It was a dream to drive.

"It's good to get this one done. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come."

Kostecki came home second to close the gap to teammate Will Brown in the championship to just seven points.

Heimgartner finished third while there was tension between the Red Bull drivers behind him.

Shane van Gisbergen pulled off a remarkable recovery from last on the grid, starting with what looked to be a positive first lap when he made up six spots out of turn 2.

It all came tumbling down at the turn 7/8 complex, though, when contact with Declan Fraser left the Red Bull Camaro facing the wrong way.

He initially then struggled to make any headway on the field as he complained of steering issues and a heavy throttle pedal.

However the safety car timing was kind to him, van Gisbergen then rapid across his second stint as he pulled Feeney through the field.

He dropped behind Feeney who was on the preferred strategy, but was able to claw his way onto the back of the #88 in the final stint.

Van Gisbergen then barged past Feeney with six laps to go, only to be told over the radio that if he couldn't hunt down Heimgartner, he'd have to give the spot back.

Van Gisbergen argued that he had made the pass fair and square and shouldn't need to give it back.

Negotiations continued throughout the closing laps, van Gisbergen eventually letting Feeney back into fourth place.

Brown came home sixth from Mark Winterbottom, Randle, Bryce Fullwood and Le Brocq.

Waters, meanwhile, dropped all the way back to 15th in what proved to be a tough second two stints.

He did better than Chaz Mostert, though, who was out of the race on lap 1 thanks to a power steering issues.

That followed his contact with the wall during the Top 10 Shootout after initially qualifying fourth.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship season continues with the Sydney SuperNight on July 28-30.

Townsville 500 Race 2 results

Cla # Driver Car Time Gap Interval
1 11 Australia Anton De Pasquale Ford Mustang GT -    
2 99 Brodie Kostecki Chevrolet 5.0692 5.069 5.069
3 8 New Zealand Andre Heimgartner Chevrolet 11.5014 11.501 6.432
4 88 Broc Feeney Chevrolet 18.6496 18.650 7.148
5 97 New Zealand Shane van Gisbergen Chevrolet 19.1164 19.116 0.467
6 9 Australia Will Brown Chevrolet 26.4297 26.430 7.313
7 18 Australia Mark Winterbottom Chevrolet 27.6425 27.643 1.213
8 55 Australia Thomas Randle Ford Mustang GT 28.1561 28.156 0.514
9 14 Australia Bryce Fullwood Chevrolet 30.9735 30.974 2.817
10 34 Australia Jack Le Brocq Chevrolet 35.9876 35.988 5.014
11 20 Australia Scott Pye Chevrolet 40.9702 40.970 4.983
12 31 Australia James Golding Chevrolet 45.3151 45.315 4.345
13 2 Australia Nick Percat Ford Mustang GT 45.6825 45.683 0.367
14 4 Australia Jack Smith Chevrolet 48.5387 48.539 2.856
15 6 Australia Cameron Waters Ford Mustang GT 53.3389 53.339 4.800
16 5 Australia James Courtney Ford Mustang GT 1'00.3830 1'00.383 7.044
17 26 Australia David Reynolds Ford Mustang GT 1'01.0761 1'01.076 0.693
18 19 Matthew Payne Ford Mustang GT 1'02.1900 1'02.190 1.114
19 777 Declan Fraser Ford Mustang GT 1'03.2592 1'03.259 1.069
20 96 Australia Macauley Jones Chevrolet 1'08.5076 1'08.508 5.248
21 17 Australia Will Davison Ford Mustang GT 1 lap    
22 35 Cameron Hill Chevrolet 5 laps    
23 23 Australia Tim Slade Chevrolet 5 laps    
  3 Australia Todd Hazelwood Ford Mustang GT      
  25 Australia Chaz Mostert Ford Mustang GT      

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