Chaz Mostert has secured his second win for the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship season after a dramatic opening race of the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown.
In what was a near-perfect performance from the Queenslander, Mostert took out the race by more than 11 seconds ahead of Cameron Waters and Nick Percat.
The Walkenshaw Andretti United star started in P8 and avoided some chaotic opening turn drama, which saw polesitter Anton De Pasquale and a number of other drivers in a major collision.
Mostert managed to sneak into third place behind championship leader Shane Van Gisbergen and Brad Jones Racing’s Percat during the chaos before a six lap safety car intervention saw the cars bunched up together again.
On the restart, van Gisbergen got to work and comfortably led the field for the next 20 laps as he pulled away from Percat, who eventually lost his position to Mostert.
On track for his seventh victory of the year, all of Van Gisbergen’s hard work was undone during his pit stop when the Triple Eight Racing crew struggled to replace his left rear and he was left stranded for 30 seconds.
While he did eventually make it back to the track, albeit after the detrimental stop, van Gisbergen’s hopes of securing his first victory since race one of the Beaurepaires Tasmania Supersprint evaporated as he came out towards the back.
The current championship leader didn’t let the unfortunate stop phase him as he climbed his way back up through the field to finish just behind teammate Jamie Whincup in an amicable 13th and with the fastest lap bonus points.
Mostert's victory and the two Red Bull Holden Racing Team duo's results saw him move close the gap to Whincup to just two points, as well as shaving a further 56 points off van Gisbergen's lead.
"Starting eighth, I was just hoping I'd get through Turn 1," Mostert said post-race.
"I lucked into coming out of Turn 1 in third. I thought it was a good result, and hopefully the car was okay.
"I was pretty quick at the start... you get a bit worried that the degradation is going to come.
"I didn't know about Shane, I didn't know what happened, to be honest.
"We'll take 'em when you can get 'em, I've been on the other side plenty of times."
The drama didn’t stop with van Gisbergen though as Percat is also under investigation for a post-race penalty after his R&J Batteries Holden Commodore was found to have breached tyre pressure.
A stewards hearing is currently underway.
Brodie Kostecki and James Courtney were also handed penalties in the drama-filled race.
The Darwin Triple Crown continues tomorrow with the first of two races to take place at 11:55am ACST.