Dick Johnson Racing dominates at The Bend
After an off-season of upheaval, Dick Johnson Racing showed it is finding its feet in the Supercars championship at Tailem Bend while Cam Waters took out race two on Sunday.
It's the track they have dominated in recent years so it was fitting that the new-look Dick Johnson Racing secured its first one-two finish of 2021 at The Bend Motorsport Park.
Such a dominant force during Scott McLaughlin's three straight Supercars titles, the Ford powerhouse had to completely overhaul its operation at the end of 2020.
American billionaire Roger Penske ended his involvement in the team, taking McLaughlin with him to the United States to race IndyCar while Fabian Coulthard also departed.
It meant DJR entered 2020 with two new drivers in Anton De Pasquale and Will Davison and with a new ownership structure.
On Sunday at the South Australian track, McLaughlin made his own in the past two years, it was De Pasquale who stepped up.
The 25-year-old not only claimed the first two pole positions of his career for both of Sunday's races, he then turned that into a first win as a Shell V-Power Racing driver in the opening 24-lap race.
With Davison coming home second, it was DJR's first one-two finish since last year's first trip to The Bend in September when McLaughlin won ahead of Coulthard in the final race of the event.
While De Pasquale's second race was wrecked by an early engine drama on Sunday, Davison came home third behind Cam Waters and Shane Van Gisbergen to cap a strong display by the team, saying after the race:
"Since the first event I think we've done pretty well with the adaption we've all had to make.
"Cars are all different. New relationships, no testing (or) limited testing, absolutely nothing so to be honest we've just been carrying on our trend.
"We've been strong at points in every single weekend this year.
"We were confident coming here. Obviously, the team have got a good handle on this circuit but we're different drivers so you never just bolt in what you did last year.
"Things are always changing. It's just been a process of understanding each other bit-by-bit and us getting used to the car."
The next stop on the Supercars calendar is at Winton on May 29 and 30, another circuit dominated by McLaughlin and Coulthard in recent years. Davidson said:
"We've got through these first four (events) now with a good haul of points which was my goal.
"Hopefully we can sort of keep this trend going and just keep getting stronger."
After three runner-up finishes in 2021, Ford's Cameron Waters has secured a breakthrough win in Sunday's second Supercars race at Tailem Bend.
After crashing out of Sunday's first 24-lap race in South Australia in the opening lap, Waters made the most of a hasty rebuild by his Tickford Racing garage to hold off championship leader Shane Van Gisbergen and secure the third race win of his Supercars career.
The victory is a real breakthrough for Waters after three second-place finishes in 2021 without a win until that point.
That result seemed a million miles away after the right-hand rear side of his Mustang was effectively destroyed in a first-lap collision in Sunday's opening race, former teammate Chaz Mostert colliding with Waters' Monster Energy car in a multi-vehicle incident.
A rebuild that took up the entire two-hour break between races paid dividends as Waters hit the front when race one winner Anton De Pasquale's Shell V-Power Mustang suffered engine troubles early in race two.
"I'm a lot happier than I was after the first race this morning.
"Didn't really think I'd be up here after seeing all the damage out of the car after the crash.
"Massive credit to the boys for fixing it. It was pretty bad and they gave me a fast, straight car."
Van Gisbergen finished second to go with his third-place finish in race one, the back-to-back podiums on his 32nd birthday extending his championship lead to 190 points as his rivals suffered.
As well as Mostert and Waters failing to finish the opening race, Van Gisbergen's Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Jamie Whincup finished 11th and then fourth in the second race.
Van Gisbergen is now on 1112 points, with Whincup second on 922.
Mostert is further back in third on 866 points while Waters stays fifth in the standings despite his win.
Fourth-place is Will Davison who finished third in Sunday's second race after finishing second in a Dick Johnson Racing one-two in race one.
Despite his race two failure, Sunday was De Pasquale's best day at his new team, securing the first two pole positions of his career in the morning and then a maiden win for DJR in race one.
The next stop in the Supercars championship is the Winton SuperSprint in Victoria on May 29 and 30.