Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen has sealed the 2022 Supercars championship on the Gold Coast after cruising to his 20th victory of the season.
Van Gisbergen started from the front row and after challenging pole sitter David Reynolds early, he got down the inside and he never looked back for his 11th win in his past 13 starts.
The win wrapped up the championship with one round to go and is a remarkable 165th podium finish for van Gisbergen.
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“He is extraordinary. This is one of the best runs … one of the best season of all time,” commentator Neil Crompton said.
“Beating him has been almost impossible.”
Van Gisbergen admitted his car “killed everyone” in the “amazing” dream run.
The victory was made more impressive by the fact there wasn’t a major incident, despite the tight city track.
Notorious for its lethal circuit, only Cam Waters found trouble in the 250-kilometre race – and even he managed to regather it after skating into the tyre barrier mid-race.
“I’m shaking my head with how he got away with that!” Crompton praised.
Reynolds, who grabbed his first pole of the season, finished in second after battling with a steering complaint.
His Penrite team had been prepared to replace the steering wheel during his second pit stop after concerns it had come loose.
Luckily a quick tighten did the trick to get Reynolds back out.
“I started to feel it wiggle a bit. I was bloody nervous it was going to come off entirely,” he said post-race.
Commentator Mark Larkham was not impressed by the steering wheel issue.
“It’s not good enough,” he said. “That requires a serious debrief.”
Earlier, Reynolds had been on a high after gaping the rest of the field by more than four tenths of a second in the shoot out, as the “bastard” Gold Coast kerbs struck for three rivals.
Andre Heimgartner and Brodie Kostecki failed to put down times in the shootout after getting penalised for kerb hopping – while Will Davison also failed to register his lap after having to bail out from a wide kerb strike.
It’s Reynolds’ 15th career pole and his first since the Grand Prix in Melbourne last year.
Commentator Neil Crompton described the lap as “millimetre perfect” as Reynolds celebrated widely in the pits when rival Shane van Gisbergen couldn’t match his 1.10.431.
“That was probably one of the best laps I’ve done in my life – there’s no way I could repeat that,” Reynolds said.
“I couldn’t believe I saw a ten-four!”
Van Gisbergen, who started alongside Reynolds on the grid for the first race, slammed the condition of the Gold Coast 500 track, labelling the troublesome kerbs “not safe” and a “real lottery”.
Van Gisbergen was fastest in Saturday’s qualifying ahead of the shootout for Sunday’s race, but was quick to lament the “very average” kerb issue.
“We can talk about it all day – it’s a shame it’s the biggest talking point here,” he said on Fox Motorsport.
“The top three drivers, all of us after the press conference we decided to do something. Got everyone to sign the form … Everyone agreed the kerbs aren’t good enough and we need to do something.
“I thought we had good discussions last night and thought we had some progress – all the drivers were stocked and came back this morning and (Supercars officials) said ‘No, that’s how it is’.
“It’s very average that it’s like this. It’s not safe for everyone.
“It’s a real lottery … they didn’t help us. All the drivers agreed we need to do something and they’ve done nothing.”
Reynolds agreed the kerbs were an issue for all drivers, especially turns one and two.
“Turn one’s such a bastard – it’s very, very hard to place your car,” he said.
“You don’t know if you’re going to jump over the invisible line and get a kerb strike.
“That’s the hardest part.”
A new system sees drivers penalised for “kerb hopping” if they activate sensors used to monitor the kerb use, with practice and qualifying laps wiped if they go too far.
Van Gisbergen and Reynolds managed to avoid the qualifying drama that saw both Todd Hazlewood and Jake Kostecki bring out the red flag.
Van Gisbergen, who needed just 33 points to seal the championship win in 2022, topped the time sheets ahead of Chaz Mostert, Brodie Kostecki, Will Davison, James Courtney, Reynolds, Andrew Heimgartner, Thomas Randle, Cam Waters and Anton de Pasquale.
Nick Percat missed the shootout and was unimpressed as he headed into the pits for a confrontation with Brodie Kostecki.
The two were caught in a heated moment as Percat believed Kostecki had impeded his hot lap.
Kostecki denied that accusation, saying he was also on a lap and had “five lengths” on Percat.
The top 10 shootout will take place on Saturday afternoon.