Bathurst is brutal.
Seven drivers found that out the hard way in race one of the Mount Panorama 500 on Saturday, including polesitter, Cameron Waters, whose chances of victory ended when his Tickford car suffered a power steering-related issue on lap eight.
That left the early pace-setter trundling a few laps down for the rest of the afternoon.
From there on in, it was eventual race-winner, Shane Van Gisbergen, who took control of the race.
His drive could be perfectly described in three words, cool, calm and collected.
It was reminiscent of classic stints that Van Gisbergen has put in before at Bathurst, setting a good pace to stay comfortable out front.
While that makes it seem like plain sailing, there was the matter of Chaz Mostert for the number 97 crew to keep their eyes on.
Mostert has been strong all weekend, save for a self-admittedly below-par qualifying session, and he was on song in the race.
The Walkinshaw Andretti United driver probably would have been the one with the massive winner’s trophy on the podium if it wasn’t for a period where he couldn’t get past Dick Johnson Racing’s Will Davison, losing an estimated three seconds in the process between laps 21 and 26.
In the end, the gap between Van Gisbergen in first, and Mostert in second, was 1.4 seconds.
That gap sat at seven seconds on lap 31, after the final round of compulsory pit stops, before Mostert set about setting fastest lap after fastest lap on a lower fuel load and a brand new set of Dunlop hard tyres.
But this late charge wasn’t enough to stop Van Gisbergen from taking the win, although the continuing good pace showed by Mostert is encouraging, and something that he is pleased with.
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Davison finished third, a position he secured when Tim Slade had a big crash through The Esses on the run down to Forrest’s Elbow with five laps to go.
Unfortunately, this crash has resulted in the Blanchard Racing Team having to withdraw from the remainder of the weekend, as the damage is too great to be repaired at the track.
It’s pretty heart wrenching stuff considering that Slade had qualified the car in second position, and was a contender for a podium which would have topped off an impressive return to Supercars for him after a year without a full-time drive in the series.
Slade and the Blanchard Racing Team are the jokers in the pack for 2021, for sure.
As Davison was celebrating a podium, things were not so rosy on the other side of the DJR garage, after Anton De Pasquale crashed out of the race on lap seven after going slightly off line on the entry to The Cutting.
That too was a shame, with De Pasquale having started the race well, sitting in third position before the crash.
And that is a tale told so many times before at Bathurst, where the saying ‘to finish first, first you must finish’ always rings true.