Shane van Gisbergen will bow out of Supercars as a three-time Bathurst 1000 champion after becoming the first driver in 15 years to secure consecutive wins at Mount Panorama.
The defending Supercars champion backed up his Bathurst triumph with Garth Tander last year, combining with Richie Stanaway to be the first all-New Zealand pair since Greg Murphy and Steven Richards in 1999 to win the great race.
Starting from sixth on the grid on Sunday, van Gisbergen and Stanaway tore away to upstage Brodie Kostecki and clinch victory over the red-hot favourite by almost 20 seconds.
It was also the greatest winning margin since Murphy and Richards won by 25.32 seconds 24 years ago.
Kostecki, the championship leader, started from pole after a record-breaking shootout win, but van Gisbergen’s experience and class won out in the 161-lap marathon, witnessed by the third biggest crowd in Bathurst history.
It was the first consecutive victory at Bathurst since Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes claimed a third straight crown together in 2008.
“It’s taken me a long time to learn this place (Bathurst), it took 10 years to be proper-fast here all the time,” van Gisbergen said.
“Each stint we got more and more competitive, and then perfect.”
Ford’s fears of more Chevrolet dominance were proved correct as Triple Eight young gun Broc Feeney appeared destined to join van Gisbergen and Kostecki for an all-Camaro podium.
But Feeney was left heartbroken and in tears after experiencing gearbox issues on lap-137 when the 20-year-old and Whincup were placed second.
Shell V-Power Anton De Pasquale was the first Ford driver across the line in third.
Van Gisbergen’s 80th career win, and fifth of the season, keeps him in contention to claim a third-straight Supercars title, cutting Kostecki’s lead to 131 points ahead of rounds on the Gold Coast and in Adelaide.
It has been an era of dominance from van Gisbergen, who has won three of the past four Bathurst 1000s after first triumphing during the COVID-affected 2020 season.
The 34-year-old will head to the United States at season’s end to drive full-time in NASCAR, after scoring a stunning win on debut in Chicago in July.
“I’m really gonna miss it. I love this place,” van Gisbergen said.
“I’ll be back one day, probably, but for now this is a perfect way to say goodbye.
“Seemed difficult with this car, she was falling apart a bit at the end, but we made it so it’s good.”
In the first Bathurst of the Gen3, post-Commodore era, van Gisbergen’s victory made it 21 of 24 wins to Camaro this season, with no Ford car saluting in multiple races.
Van Gisbergen’s win was salt into the wounds of Ford teams, who were left fuming after Supercars rejected technical adjustments to the Mustangs just days before Australia’s most famous motor race.
Ford’s great hope Cam Waters was out of contention after lap-70 following a crash by his co-driver James Moffat.
Moffat had to be towed into the garage after the car stopped just before pit-lane and the pair failed to finish.
Supercars legend Craig Lowndes’s hopes of a surprise victory in his 30th Bathurst 1000 race came to an abrupt halt after 18 laps and he finished 24th, only ahead of four cars that didn’t finish.
BATHURST 1000 RESULTS
1. Shane van Gisbergen/Richie Stanaway (Red Bull Ampol)
2. Brodie Kostecki/David Russell (Erebus)
3. Anton De Pasquale/Tony D’Alberto (Shell V-Power)
4. Chaz Mostert/Lee Holdsworth (Walkinshaw Andretti United)
5. David Reynolds/Garth Tander (Grove Racing)
6. James Courtney/Zak Best (Tickford)
7. Bryce Fullwood/Dean Fiore (Brad Jones Racing)
8. Will Brown/Jack Perkins (Erebus)
9. Jack Le Brocq/Jayden Ojeda (Matt Stone Racing)
10. James Golding/Dylan O’Keeffe (PremiAir Racing)