It’s taken 17 races and a parity check but Ford has finally crossed the finish line of the Gen3 supercars on the streets of Townsville thanks to Shell V-Power Racing’s Anton De Pasquale.
For a long time, Mustangs have toiled through lap after lap, race after race, celebrating podium finishes but never quite taking the checkered flag first since the new cars took the grid this year.
Ford’s Cam Waters officially has one race win to his credit, a first-lap win at Newcastle, but that came about through the disqualification of both Red Bull Ampol Racing drivers.
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Chevrolets had dominated in Newcastle, Melbourne, Perth, Tasmania, Darwin and even Saturday’s first race in Townsville.
But De Pasquale finally brought home a Mustang after 88 laps and 250km around Reid Park, winning his first race at the circuit and bringing Ford into the race in 2023.
Along with Thomas Randle, he was one of two Mustangs to make the top 10.
De Pasquale started from sixth and quickly moved up to third over the opening laps before deciding to pit early on lap 10.
Pole-sitter Waters continued to lead a reasonably accident-free race before most of the lead group pitted on lap 27 on Sunday.
Nine laps later, De Pasquale was back at it before quickly passing Will Brown with one stop and seriously considering himself for the race.
The message from Shell V-Power was clear: increase the lead before a final stop as much as possible and save six seconds needed for fuel.
With 24 laps to go, De Pasquale’s third stop brought new rear tires and fresh fuel and he continued with an open track ahead.
The 27-year-old reached the checkered flag and won by five seconds to end a losing streak of 34 wins that stretched back to Darwin last year.
His win also ended a 23-race streak in which either a Holden or GM car claimed victory in Supercars.
Brodie Kostecki won a late race duel with Andre Heimgartner to take second place on the podium, while Shane van Gisbergen came out of the sky and secured fifth place in his 500th career race with a 25th on the grid.
SVG improved several places from the start but was turned around by Declan Fraser at turn seven before launching a Herculean charge back into the fight for the podium.
At the end of the race, the New Zealander relinquished fourth place to teammate Broc Feeney to ensure the 20-year-old could score the most lap points.
Will Brown’s sixth place ensured Erebus Motorsport still sits at the top of the championship standings while Kostecki finished second.
Result of race 17
1. Anton De Pasquale (Shell V-Power Racing)
2. Brodie Kostecki (Erebus Motorsport) +5.069
3. Andre Heimgartner (R&J Batteries) +11,501
4. Broc Feeney (Red Bull Ampol Racing) +18.649
5. Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Ampol Racing) +19.116
1. Will Brown (Erebus Motorsport) 1357 points
2. Brodie Kostecki 1350 points
3. Broc Feeney 1331 points
4. Shane van Gisbergen 1285 points
5. Chaz Moster (Mobil 1 Optus) 1114 points