Van Gisbergen powers to Townsville victory

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Shane van Gisbergen has cruised to his ninth victory of the V8 Supercars season, with a decisive pit stop strategy seeing him leapfrog teammate Jamie Whincup late in the Townsville 500.

After losing the lead at the start, it took van Gisbergen 70 laps to take back his throne and power to a clinical race 15 victory at the Supercars championship on Saturday.

Red Bull's pit stop strategy paid dividends for van Gisbergen after his second stop on lap 64 saw him re-enter the field with fresher tyres to hunt down Whincup, who had a 3.8-second lead.

After securing a lockout in qualifying at the front of the grid, the first race of the Townsville 500 was dominated by Red Bull with both drivers all but competing with each other for bragging rights.

Van Gisbergen paid tribute to his engineers and team for the one-two Red Bull punch in the opening race.

"We're two pretty lucky guys at the moment, our engineering group and the mechanics, the guys at the shop, it's amazing how good our cars are this weekend," he said post-race.

"Its fun to drive them and we have to make the most of it."

In the 250km, 88-lap race, it was Whincup who arguably had the best jump off the grid behind Penrite Racing's David Reynolds.

Flying off the blocks, Whincup snuck past a slower van Gisbergen through turn two but a decision to pit earlier cost the 12-time winner in Townsville, as his re-entry into the Reid Park circuit put him behind mid-field traffic.

This allowed van Gisbergen to gather enough time before his final pit stop, and use his fresh tyres to easily pass Whincup with 17 laps remaining.

But Whincup couldn't put his finger on where the difference was, between driver and race strategy.

"It was a team decision to pit in when I did, I'm not sure - the strategy seemed pretty good but the best strategy when there's no safety car is to cut the race into thirds, which we did," he said.

"There's other factors involved, but I did get a bit of traffic so did 97 (van Gisbergen) as well.

So I think strategy was pretty good from what I can see, but all the numbers are in the computer...and we'll look at that."

Whincup finished second and Red Bull Ampol Racing would be proud of their seamless pit-stop strategy that saw the pair 30 seconds clear of the rest of the pack.

Anton De Pasquale finished third for Shell V-Power Racing, with Nick Percat and David Reynolds fourth and fifth respectively.

Van Gisbergen will take a 233-point lead over Whincup into Sunday's race with Chaz Mostert, who finished 14th and is sitting third overall, 317 points behind on the championship ladder.

Qualifying for race 16 will begin at 10:10am AEST on Sunday, with a Top 10 Shootout following at 12:05pm.

The second 88-lap, 250km race will commence at 2:45pm.

V8 SUPERCARS RACE 15 RESULTS:

1. Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Ampol Racing)

2. Jamie Whincup (Red Bull Ampol Racing) +7.4

3. Anton De Pasquale (Shell V-Power Racing) +30.2

4. Nick Percat (Brad Jones Racing) +9.7

5. David Reynolds (Penrite Racing) +51.3.

V8 SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

1. Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Ampol Racing) 1511 pts

2. Jamie Whincup (Red Bull Ampol Racing) 1278 pts

3. Chaz Mostert (Mobil 1 Appliances Racing) 1194 pts

4. Will Davison (Shell V-Power Racing) 1171 pts

5. Cameron Waters (Monster Energy Racing) 1154 pts.

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