Ford’s Cam Waters has registered career win number 10 and capped a stellar start to the Gold Coast 500 with a thrilling victory by the barest of margins on the sun-kissed streets of Surfers Paradise.
Not everything has gone to plan for Waters and his Tickford team this year.
But he qualified fastest then maintained his pace to secure pole via a top ten shootout early on Saturday, before fending off multiple combatants in the afternoon’s 250km race.
His triumph marked the Tickford driver’s first win since the opening round in Newcastle.
He also matched the feat of winning from pole position after doing so in Darwin last year.
Waters led David Reynolds and championship hopeful Shane van Gisbergen with 25 laps remaining after the leading pack had completed their mandatory two pit stops.
But he showed great discipline to keep the pair at bay, particularly when van Gisbergen found himself in second with five laps to go.
The margin was just half a second with two laps remaining, which dropped to 0.3 of a second as the final lap began.
As Waters crossed the line to deny van Gisbergen a third consecutive win on the Gold Coast, the Red Bull was as close as he could be, but Waters held on by 0.194 of a second to secure a surfboard trophy for the Tickford cabinet.
“It’s been a shocking year to be honest for many different reasons and I didn’t think the bad luck was going to end,” Waters said after mechanical issues and two DNF’s this year.
“When we rolled the car out it was super fast, and we made it a little bit better and just wanted to try and execute and hopefully things went our way. It finally did.”
However, Waters said he was still disappointed when asked about parity between the Gen3 Mustangs and Camaros, indicating he felt like he’d wasted a whole year.
Supercars triggered a second parity review following the last leg at Bathurst and made adjustments to the Fords’ rear wing, side skirt, and front fascia elements to reduce drag and redistribute downforce to the rear of the car.
“It’s just highlighted how bad we prioritise the cars and I think it’s just exposed that – and that’s no one’s fault,” Waters said.
“But, I look at things positively and sending cars to wind tunnels and changing how we do things is the right way to move forward.”
While Waters revelled in victory, championship point margins were narrowed after van Gisbergen finished second and most importantly for the Red Bull driver, ahead of series leader Brodie Kostecki.
Erebus’ Kostecki entered the weekend with a 131 point lead over the two-time reigning champion but that margin decreased with his 5th place finish.
The gap is now 104 points with one race remaining on Sunday before the Supercars series finale in Adelaide next month.
David Reynolds and Thomas Randle finished in the top five, while Erebus’ Will Brown finished 11th after starting last on the grid.
Race 25 results:
1. Cam Waters (Monster Energy Racing)
2. Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Ampol Racing) +0.194
3. David Reynolds (Penrite Racing) +8.246
4. Thomas Randle (Castrol Racing) +9.938
5. Brodie Kostecki (Erebus Motorsport) +12.369
1. Brodie Kostecki 2558 pts
2. Shane van Gisbergen 2454 pts
3. Will Brown 2192 pts
4. Broc Feeney 2102 pts
5. Chaz Mostert 1990 pts