There was a Great White hunting in Supercars waters at Sandown as Shane van Gisbergen savaged his rivals on the way to an extraordinary win in the first of three southern sprints.
Not only was he carrying a nasty shoulder injury but The Shark also had to recover from a mistake in qualifying that left him buried in 17th place on the grid.
He tore through the early laps, waited until late to take fresh rear tyres, then attacked in the dying laps to move from fourth to first within sight of the flag.
It was history as much as victory, as no-one had come from so deep on the grid to win a sprint in the touring car championship.
“Hopefully that was a good show to watch,” van Gisbergen said after his win.
“I think we did everything,” was all Cam Waters could say after leading, battling, but eventually coming up short in second.
“A good race for the sport, all-and-all. It was good that no-one shunted. It was pretty gnarly and we all got through. It’s a good story,” said Jamie Whincup, who completed a 1-3 for the Red Bull Ampol team.
There were lots of stories from one of the best Supercars races in recent seasons, with battles up and down the pack and plenty of position changes.
Jake Kostecki, an early casualty of the rough-house racing, spoke for many of the hopefuls at the end of the day.
“Spewing. It sucks. It’s crap because I don’t even know what happened there,” he said.
But Chaz Mostert was the biggest loser, falling from pole position to sixth at the finish after an early pitstop left him with no grip to defend at the end.
“I feel a bit defeated today. Today it just didn’t work out for us,” Mostert said.
But he also had kudos for The Shark.
“To come from the back of the field and win that race, the way he is . . . “
Van Gisbergen looked shattered after the finish, as the adrenaline drained away, but said there was never any doubt that he would start at Sandown – and race.
“It hurts when you hit the kerbs, but it’s not too bad. I felt ok in the car,” he said of the broken collarbone that has been plated in surgery.”
And the race, including the fourth-to-first charge at the end that took him past Mark Winterbottom as well as his major rivals?
“I knew I was doing to be fine. I had a good first lap, saved the tyres and then started picking guys off.
“Bit of a risky move at Turn 2, but that was probably what won the race. Probably not smart to make it three-wide, but the inside is probably the safest place.”
Waters now knows the threat that he faces from SvG, and the potential for another mauling at Sandown on Sunday.
“You can’t write him off, ever. I just raced my own race,” Water said.
“It is what it is. Massive kudos to Shane for what he’s just achieved. He deserved that race.”
Race 1 – 36 laps
- Shane van Gisbergen, Commodore
- Cam Waters, Mustang
- Jamie Whincup, Commodore
- Mark Winterbottom, Commodore
- Anton De Pasquale, Mustang
- Chaz Mostert, Mustang
- Nick Percat, Commodore
- Andre Heimgartner, Mustang
- James Courtney, Mustang
- Jack Le Brocq, Mustang
- Van Gisbergen, 400 points; 2. Mostert, 340; 3. Winterbottom, 311; 4. Whincup, 284; 5. Waters 276.