Finally winning in Townsville was an “incredible feeling” for Anton De Pasquale after close – and controversial – calls in 2019 and 2022.
De Pasquale dominated Race 17 at the NTI Townsville 500 to secure the Shell V-Power Racing team’s first win of the season.
The Ford driver took his first victory at Reid Park, having come close twice before in dramatic circumstances.
Ironically, Shane van Gisbergen won each time, with De Pasquale left behind as he chased Townsville to victory in vain.
In 2019, a young De Pasquale took his first Supercars win in just his second season with Erebus Motorsport.
Erebus did a rain dance and put De Pasquale on wet tires as the conditions worsened, and he found himself 35 seconds ahead.
De Pasquale, however, then pushed too hard on his worn tyres, made two errors and finished fourth after coming to a stop after another safety car.
Last year, De Pasquale mowed down van Gisbergen in the final laps and made a pass for the win.
However, it ended in contentious scenes at the last corner when De Pasquale turned van Gisbergen, who then refused a repair.
The move set the paddock on fire, with Triple Eight boss Jamie Whincup calling the decision “reckless”.
2023 arrives, and after 16 races without a podium, De Pasquale is leading the charge to banish the demons of a bad season.
“It’s cool to be back on the podium and finally winning, which is an incredible feeling,” De Pasquale told The Schick recovery tower podcast.
“I’ve come close here a few times, so to do one is a great feeling, it’s a great track.
“Very similar to last year actually, driving last year’s race, racing Shane. But the strategy didn’t work for us last year.
“Today I was able to run my own race, I had incredible pace in the middle of the race. The car took care of its tyres.
“To top it off, the safety car made my life a lot easier, I didn’t have to come back and overtake someone else. I was in first position.
“All the stars aligned, but obviously you still had to have the speed to do it. That’s cool.”
De Pasquale languished in 20th place in the Championship ahead of Sunday’s victory, which centered on a strategy masterclass.
The No.11 Ford was armed with fresh tyres, but De Pasquale took advantage of its pace – and the well-timed safety cars – to open a big lead.
Brodie Kostecki tried to mow down the Shell Mustang late, but De Pasquale held on after 250km – a format the driver himself prefers.
“This year, more than ever, there is an element of strategy,” De Pasquale said.
So close, yet so far in 2019
“We didn’t see a three-stopper having potential here, I remember that. This year he had real potential, Chaz (Mostert) yesterday and me today.
“It’s really cool. I like these races, you settle into a groove.
“There is an element of tuning the car for the race and thinking about things before.
“You have a lot less dudes doing dive bombs in your doorway, which is good.
“There are a lot of tough races, but it’s usually cleaner when they know they have 200km to go with twisted steering.”
De Pasquale’s next assignment is Sydney Motorsport Park, where he won five Supercar races.
The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight from July 28-30. Tickets are on sale now.