The Repco Supercars Championship has wrapped up its Pukekohe Park era in style with three thrilling races having taken place over the course of the weekend.
In fitting fashion, it was hometown hero Shane van Gisbergen who took out top honours for the weekend and the Jason Richards Trophy as a result, after winning both of Sunday’s races.
van Gisbergen was at the top of his game again on Sunday as each win came in different styles – the Kiwi his converting pole position into a victory, before charging his way through the pack to win an epic battle in a thrilling finale.
Sunday morning’s race had plenty of drama throughout as van Gisbergen comfortably beat Chaz Mostert and Cam Waters to the line to pick up his 17th win for the season.
Behind him, a chaotic opening lap saw Anton De Pasquale collide with Jake Kostecki and retire for the first time this season, while contact with Mark Winterbottom saw Will Brown into the barrier and out for the weekend.
When it came to the final race of the weekend, van Gisbergen had to work had to secure the win, having started from eighth and muscling his way through the field.
It took him a while to begin his surge though, with the championship leader making his first move on lap 14 before reaching the race leader in Waters 20 laps later.
A number of mistakes from the Victorian allowed van Gisbergen to have multiple attempts at the lead, and although he defended gallantly, he couldn’t hold off the Kiwi from equalling Scott McLaughlin’s record 18 wins in a season.
Following his victory, an emotional van Gisbergen was thrilled to win at the circuit’s final race.
“Unbelievable. From eighth, I didn’t think we could do that,” van Gisbergen said,
“Things were playing out, the car was amazing.
“I didn’t give up, I just kept throwing it at it. Cam had me pretty good, and I couldn’t get him.
“Next time, I wasn’t lifting.”
With Waters finishing second, it was another local Kiwi in Andre Heimgartner who helped van Gisbergen give the track a perfect send off – the Brad Jones Racing driver rounded out the podium one and a half seconds off van Gisbergen’s teammate Broc Feeney.
The Pukekohe finale wasn’t the only time Heimgartner was on the podium ovrf the course of the weekend, a runner-up finish in Saturday’s race marking an impressive outing for the New Zealander.
Taking out the win on Saturday ahead of Heimgartner was Will Davison, who had produced a strong result himself after snatching the lead off Waters on the opening lap – the polesitter eventually finishing third.
In what was a nail-biting finish, Davison was forced to defend his lead against Heimgartner for the final five laps after a late safety car intervention brought the field back together.
Davison did what he needed to do and picked up his third win for the year, becoming just the 26th driver in ATCC/Supercars history to win over 40.
“I just wanted a straightforward run,” Davison said post-race.
“I had to take a breath… it [the Safety Car] actually helped me, I cooled my front tyres.
“Once I got the restart underway, I was quite relieved because the car was great.
“Thanks Pukekohe, thanks New Zealand, it’s an incredible stadium to be racing, really special.”
Following on from the weekend, van Gisbergen now holds a 525-point lead over Waters, while Davison is a further 77 points off in third place.
The Repco Supercars Championships now head to the iconic Mount Panorama for the Repco Bathurst 1000 on 6-9 October.