Garth Tander, the reigning V8 Supercar champion, capped a dream race weekend by winning race three and the round. He'd already won the first two races.
Reigning V8 Supercar champion Garth Tander drove a perfect race to win the final Australian V8 Supercar race at the Hamilton 400 this afternoon, and score a hat trick of victories for the weekend.
But it was the performance of two young Kiwis, both rising stars of V8 Supercar racing, that had the New Zealand crowd buzzing.
Fabian Coulthard finished sixth after some stunning outside line passing moves in Turn 1, and teenaged sensation Shane Van Gisbergen drove from 26th on the grid to a 10th place finish, dicing with and passing two V8 Supercar legends on the way.
In taking the win, Tander took the round victory and preserved Holden’s unbeaten record in the New Zealand round f the Supercar series.
The Toll Holden Racing Team driver won the startline drag race easily to head Stone Brothers Racing’s James Courtney out of Turn 1 after Courtney had passed Ford Performance Racing’s Steven Richards.
There was a Safety Car before the race was a lap old. Lee Holdsworth bounced off the kerb in the chicane and hit the wall.
Kiwis Fabian Coulthard (Glenfords Ford Falcon) and Jason Richards (Tasman Motorsport Commodore) ran sixth and eighth.
Richards’ top 10 placing didn’t last long. Shortly after the race restarted, he was hit with a drive-through penalty for tapping Tony D’Alberto’s Commodore and causing it to spin and hit the wall hard. D’Alberto got the car back to the pits but it was judged too damaged to continue.
After another restart, Coulthard was on the move, using an outside pass in Turn 1 to move into fifth place.
As the cars made their compulsory pitstops, Shane Van Gisbergen who had started the Stone Brothers Falcon 26th, stayed out almost to the end of the pitstop window and led the race for several laps.
For a few laps Team Kiwi Racing driver Kayne Scott ran second in the all-black Falcon before he too pitted.
The race ended heart-breakingly for Scott when the steering broke and the car slid over inside of the Ford Sweeper and hit the wall – with two laps to run, and Scott in 19th place.
When Van Gisbergen pitted the leaderboard went into its real order, with Tander leading, from Richards, who had got ahead of Courtney with a faster pitstop, and Courtney.
Van Gisbergen came out of the pits just as multiple V8 Supercar champion and Australian motorsport legend Mark Skaife came down pit straight in the second HRT Holden.
As Skaife bore down on the young Kiwi, Van Gisbergen refused to yield.
But Skaife soon found a way past, only to find that the determined 18-year-old wasn’t going to let anyone’s legendary status cow him.
He fought back, rounding a corner side-by-side with Skaife and putting himself in the prime position, on the inside line, for the next corner.
He darted inside Skaife, then drove away, to cheers from the packed grandstands.
He was now running 13th and the race went yellow as Paul Dumbrell hit the wall after contact with Cameron McConville.
In front of Van Gisbergen now was another V8 Supercar legend and former champion, Russell Ingall, who was 11th.
That became 10th when McConville headed for pitlane to serve a controversial drive-through penalty for the incident with Dumbrell.
That elevated Craig Lowndes (Ford) into seventh place behind Coulthard (Mark Winterbottom had got ahead of Coulthard during the pitstops), and Van Gisbergen now had a sniff of getting into the top 10.
He moved closer and closer and then ran side-by-side with The Enforcer as they crossed the start/finish line.
They went through Turn 1 and as they headed for Turn 2, Van Gisbergen went past Ingall on the inside line and took 10th place.
And that’s where he finished.
Tander won, from Steven Richards, Courtney, Rick Kelly, Winterbottom, Coulthard, Lowndes, Steven Johnson, and Andrew Jones.
Tander won the round, from Richards, Courtney, Rick Kelly and Coulthard.