Van Gisbergen takes the chocolates at Surfers Paradise

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

Shane van Gisbergen put on a dominant display in his Team Darrell Lea STIX Commodore today to win the Castrol Gold Coast 600.

The Kiwi flyer put the Tekno Holden on pole this morning, and was never headed across the 300km of racing on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

“The car has just been phenomenal the whole weekend,” van Gisbergen said.

“I haven’t won all year, so I thought it was good to lock it away and do it in style.”

While van Gisbergen and Webb scorched ahead, there were mixed fortunes for the other Kiwis.

After an indifferent qualifying, Fabian Coulthard and co-driver Luke Youlden pushed through the field in the Freightliners Holden to climb to seventh, while Andre Heimgartner and Ant Pedersen stayed out of trouble to finish 18th for Super Black Racing in their first V8 Supercars stint on the scary Gold Coast street circuit.

The biggest disappointment was Scott McLaughlin who started on the front row of the grid with van Gisbergen after a brilliant qualifying and Shootout effort. Co-driver Andre Premat was too aggressive over the kerbs which necessitated a long stop to change the front splitter, and McLaughlin was forced in with a suspected starter motor issue. He finally brought the Volvo home in 21st after a race that promised so much.

Coulthard remains in fourth place in the championship with van Gisbergen edging up to seventh, McLaughlin drops to 11th and Heimgartner 22nd.

Van Gisbergen’s teammate Jonathon Webb was the star co-driver after recovering from illness earlier in the day.

“I just tried not to make any marks or take any mirrors off before Shane got in,” said Webb.

Controversial Prodrive racer David Reynolds and co-driver Dean Canto had a strong run to second place after a tough battle with Red Bull Racing Australia stalwart Craig Lowndes.

The stellar drive was timely for Reynolds, who is pushing hard to retain his seat in the Bottle-O Racing Ford next season.

“Craig and I had a massive battle,” said Reynolds.

“I’m on show every time I head out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s the start of the year or the end of the year, every time you roll out of pit lane you give it 100%.”

In third position on the podium were Bathurst winners Lowndes and Steve Richards, taking over 90 points out of Mark Winterbottom’s Championship lead.

“It was a great battle at the end there with Dave,” said Lowndes.

“We couldn’t find a way around him, he drove it smart and straight. We had our strengths in some areas, he had strengths in other areas. It’s a great result, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

It was day to forget for championship leader Mark Winterbottom after he collided with Garth Tander leaving pit lane, causing extensive damage to his Ford Falcon FG X and earning him a penalty before finishing in 24th place.

“I had no right hand mirror, and I got released straight into the car and the result was what we saw,” said Winterbottom.

“You don’t crucify someone, you have a chat and try to eliminate the problems and then do what we do best. This year that has been winning races, so we’ll bounce back.”

The incident has narrowed the gap in the V8 Supercars championship race between Winterbottom and Lowndes to 306 points.

The second and final 300km race of the Castrol Gold Coast 600 will be held tomorrow before the V8 Supercars head across the Tasman for the ITM 500 Auckland at Pukekohe Park Raceway on November 6-8.

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