It was the one that got away for Shane van Gisbergen, who was by far and away the fastest on Sunday at the Superloop Adelaide 500.
Van Gisbergen claimed pole position for Race 2, and led 51 of 78 laps in the 250km marathon. Late into the race, he held a nine-second lead over countryman and rival Scott McLaughlin.
Early on, things began to unravel despite van Gisbergen’s standout pace. Having lost the lead into Turn 1 to McLaughlin, van Gisbergen suffered a suspected broken front anti-rollbar in the opening laps.
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After grabbing the lead back in the pits under the second yellow, van Gisbergen set a cracking pace, only to be sent back for a third pit stop after his Red Bull Holden crew failed to put enough fuel in the car – an incident team manager Mark Dutton diagnosed as “human error”.
Van Gisbergen emerged fourth behind Chaz Mostert and Cameron Waters, having ceded the lead to McLaughlin.
After erasing a three-second margin to Waters, van Gisbergen had a crack at Turn 7 on Lap 75. It would be his final lap, the #97 ZB Commodore grinding to a halt with a broken lower control arm on the right front.
Speaking after the race, van Gisbergen – who was consoled by McLaughlin after the race – admitted the end result was “not fun”.
“I think the first problem was that the front roll bar broke after the first safety car, so we had no front bar,” van Gisbergen told Supercars Trackside.
“I think that’s eventually failed with the right front, it put more load on it throughout the race.
“The fuel thing, it is what it is. We’ll work that out.
“But coming back through, I was passing Cam when it failed and I was lucky I didn’t take him out.
“If I did take him out, he wouldn’t have given me a lift back to the pits!
“But I felt really good. We had a really fast car. It’s a shame not to leave here with a bag full of points, we’ll keep pushing. It’s a long year.”
Van Gisbergen’s race engineer Grant McPherson added: “I feel most gutted for Shane, that’s one of the best drives he’s ever done.
“A wounded car, then an extra trip to pit lane, then to be pushing for third place, he drove the wheels off that thing.
“The car was awesome today, even if it wasn’t quite right. It’s just a shame for him.”
Dutton was unsure what caused the component failure, although van Gisbergen’s assault on the Adelaide kerbs could have been to blame.
From a position to claim a record-equalling fourth overall Adelaide 500 crown, van Gisbergen left the season-opener 159 points down on series leader McLaughlin.
“We can see that the right lower control arm has failed, [but] without stripping the car we can’t know what caused it,” said Dutton after the race.
“Obviously there are a lot of kerbs here, it’s a very aggressive track. We’ll 100 percent get to the bottom of it.
“At [the first pit stop] we think the arm was bent, initially, so he’s felt the bend and the suspension is in a different position.
“You could see from the lap times he was still able to go very fast, although I think he did button off a little bit. As he made the passing move it let go.”