Another chapter of Bathurst history has been written, with Kiwi duo Shane van Gisbergen and Richie Stanaway winning the 2023 Bathurst 1000, the first of the Gen3 era. The title is van Gisbergen’s third and Stanaway’s first, and they’re the second-ever all-Kiwi pairing to claim the crown.
After over six hours of almost flawless racing, the pair brought the victory home for the Red Bull Ampol Racing, with Erebus Racing simply having no response to the race pace of the #97 Camaro.
Brodie Kostecki and David Russell were left to settle for second, over 23 seconds behind the leaders, gaining a place on Lap 137 when Broc Feeney suffered gear shift issues that cruelly forced him back to the lane while looking set for a podium.
Feeney trailed his teammate by just four seconds and had time in hand with a smaller fuel load required on his final stop before the curse of the mountain struck, leaving the 20-year-old devasted with a podium and a Red Bull one-two seemingly guaranteed.
Anton De Pasquale and Tony D’Alberto rounded out the podium as the first Mustang home, an impressive result given the admitted pace issues experienced by the Mustangs on the straights.
Chaz Mostert and Supercars veteran Lee Holdsworth finished fourth, one spot ahead of Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds and Garth Tander, who had to overcome a tough early race penalty and charged from the rear of the field for fifth.
James Courtney and Zak Best made for four Mustangs in the top six, with Will Brown and Jack Perkins settling for seventh after losing significant time in a mid-race double-stack following an early Brown charge.
Matt Payne and Kevin Estre should be commended for coming home eleventh, the pair recovering from going a lap down after Estre ran off at Turn 1 and triggered the race’s first Safety Car on Lap 26.
The pair would combine to emerge back in top ten contention late in the race, with Estre matching the pace of several of the full-time drivers late on, off the back of a superb mid-race charge from Payne.
There was further heartbreak for Andre Heimgartner and Dale Wood following their early-race crash at the final turn, with the #8 Camaro suffering an oil pressure failure on Lap 71 that saw them forced to retire from the race.
A crash for James Moffat at the top of the mountain at the same point brought out the race’s third and final Safety Car, and stopping under the caution proved a wise decision from Red Bull, with Stanaway taking on a load of fuel while Russell remained out.
Feeney would also come into the lane and lost time during a double stack at this stage, but both drivers would recover to move towards the front over the following laps.
Stanaway moved to within a second of Russell before the latter stopped on Lap 91, leaving the Kiwi at the front before handing over to van Gisbergen to bring the race home on Lap 96.
The extra fuel load turned a one-second deficit into a six-second advantage, which Kostecki would slowly eat into before van Gisbergen pulled a 10-second net lead over the championship leader before the next cycle of stops.
Feeney also jumped Kostecki during this pit window and had worked to within four seconds of the lead before his race was cruelly cut short.
With Feeney gone, van Gisbergen was left with a 16-second lead to his closest rival, which extended to 25 seconds following their final stops, which he would manage until the chequered flag.