Driver’s watershed win
Young Ford gun outlasts Supercars heavyweights to claim first success
A STAR was born at Sandown Raceway yesterday when Cameron Waters turned giant-killer to outlast series leader Scott McLaughlin for his first career win.
Waters joined Supercars immortals Peter Brock, Mark Skaife and Allan Moffat as a Sandown 500 champion in a crash-shortened 125-lap race.
Holden’s Taz Douglas went hurtling into a tyre wall at 150km/h on the first lap, forcing an hour-long red flag which cut short the race by 36 laps as officials cleared the debris and fixed the wall.
Once racing restarted, Waters and his Prodrive Racing Australia car delivered Ford a shock win in the start to the endurance season, holding off the flying Ford of DJR Team Penske heavyweight McLaughlin by just over half a second.
“I don’t know what to say,’’ Waters, 23, said after winning the 46th Sandown 500.
“I am just so pumped. I didn’t think I could keep Scotty off for the last little bit but we won and I am just so pumped.’’
Waters struggled to contained his emotions after winning his first race in just his second full-time year of Supercars.
“I have to thank everyone here at the team,’’ he said.
“They put all the work in. As I said, I am just so pumped and it is all a bit surreal.’’
Kiwi co-driver Richie Stanaway added his name to the silverware with a faultless opening stint that set up the win for Waters.
“I am very proud to get the result,’’ Stanaway said.
“I can’t thank the guys at PRA enough.’’
The race opened in spectacular scenes to rival Saturday’s qualifying crash when Douglas speared off the track and hit a tyre bundle. Although he was unhurt, the safety barrier was torn apart, forcing a red flag in the race.
Race officials scrambled to repair the damage to the tyre wall as the field peeled into the pits for an unscheduled – and unwelcomed – stop.
They were left to wait for almost 60 minutes while the clean-up took place and the race became a time-certain event.
With 35 laps stripped from the race, pole-sitter Stanaway powered to the lead at the rolling restart as Alexandre Premat and Paul Dumbrell gave chase.
But the biggest charge came from the back when Shane Van Gisbergen, who was one of only two main drivers to start the race, put his foot to the floor.
In a stunning stint, the Red Bull champion went from 21st to sixth in just 13 laps to give himself a shot at redemption following car No.97’s qualifying woes.
A red-letter day for Red Bull loomed when Dumbrell showed good speed to pass Premat and Stanaway and take the race lead on lap 22.
But the endurance specialist’s smile disappeared when he spun out of contention after a tyre puncture.
Stanaway ended his nearperfect solo run on lap 56 and handed the lead to Waters.
Cameron Waters drives his Ford Falcon FGX to glory at the Sandown 500, joining co-driver Richie Stanaway (inset) on the podium after landing the Supercars shock.