It took a Frenchman and a New Zealander aboard a Holden Commodore to clinch the PIRTEK Enduro Cup on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
Shane van Gisbergen and Alexandre Premat have combined to become the first non Australian drivers to win the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
With a near-perfect second place and a win on the Gold Coast coupled with second place in the Bathurst 1000 and victory in the Sandown 500, New Zealander van Gisbergen and Frenchman Premat ended up comfortable victors in the three-event endurance series.
It might have proven the perfect weekend on the Gold Coast had the duo not have had to recover from a pitlane penalty which left them with a long catch-up drive to second place.
“The guy beside me (Premat) has done a fantastic job right throughout the season,” van Gisbergen said. “It has been great working with him and all the team finishing with second, second, first and second in the PIRTEK Enduro Cup races is great consistency.”
For Premat, victory in the Saturday leg of the Gold Coast 600 was his first Supercars race win. It was also a vindication of sorts, after the difficult 2012-13 period he spent in Australia as a full-time V8 Supercar driver with the GRM team. After a couple of seasons of mixed results he was unable to cement a permanent position.
Premat’s victory adds to the slender total of non-Antipodean drivers to have won major Australian touring car races. He is only the third Frenchman (after Sebastien Bourdais and Yvan Muller) to do so in the 60-plus year history of the championship.
“It is great to win the PIRTEK Enduro Cup,” said Premat. “I am very happy to be part of Triple Eight and Red Bull Racing. Four races and four podiums is a pretty good job. They make me stronger, I work hard and the team makes everything possible.
“I didn’t scratch one part of the car right throughout the three races, I think Roland (Dane, team boss) was pretty happy with that.”
For Red Bull Racing Australia, it was certainly a happy occasion. The van Gisbergen/Premat PIRTEK Enduro Cup victory means the team has now won winning three of the four Cups held so far.
Capping a supremely dominant performance from the Triple Eight Race Engineering stable which fields the Red Bull Commodores, four of the top five pointscorers were Triple Eight-built machines.
Triple Eight’s current superiority is also reflected on the championship ladder in the Supercars Series. Van Gisbergen left Surfers Paradise with an increased 139-point lead over Red Bull Racing Australia team-mate Jamie Whincup, with fellow Triple Eight driver Craig Lowndes third and Will Davison fourth for Triple Eight customer team Tekno Autosport.
Only two events remain in the Supercars Championship: Pukekohe in New Zealand in early November and Sydney Olympic Park in early December.
2016 Pirtek Enduro Cup top 10 points (final):
1 Shane van Gisbergen/Alex Premat (Holden) 840
2 Will Davison/Jonathon Webb (Holden) 681
3 Scott McLaughlin/David Wall (Volvo) 602
4 Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell (Holden) 555
5 Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards (Holden) 516
6 Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen (Ford) 504
7 Nick Percat/Cameron McConville (Holden) 483
8 Fabian Coulthard/Luke Youlden (Ford) 468
9 Tim Slade/Ash Walsh (Holden) 468
10 Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore (Nissan) 444
2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship top 10 points:
1 Shane van Gisbergen (Holden) 2524
2 Jamie Whincup (Holden) 2385
3 Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2205
4 Will Davison (Holden) 2112
5 Scott McLaughlin (Volvo) 2084
6 Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 1908
7 Chaz Mostert (Ford) 1853
8 Tim Slade (Holden) 1824
9 Michael Caruso (Nissan) 1818
10 Fabian Coulthard (Ford) 1708