Rick Kelly has taken his second win of the V8 Supercars season – and a shock one at that – after a late-race collision between the three leaders at this weekend’s opening race of the SkyCity Triple Crown at Darwin.
With Mark Winterbottom having led the race from pole position, the Ford Performance Racing driver pitted early during a safety car interruption and held his lead over Jamie Whincup once racing resumed.
But a late full-course caution to tend to Tim Slade’s stricken car saw the field bunch up once again, and fans were left with the thrilling prospect of a three-lap sprint to the finish.
With overtaking very difficult on the narrow Hidden Valley circuit, the restart would be crucial to the outcome of the race, and so it proved to be once again.
With the cars running four abreast down the main straight as racing got underway once again, carnage was inevitable as Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen tried to attack on another for the lead into the Turn 1 hairpin. All three made contact and fell off the circuit, which left Kelly to take an unexpected lead, having started from twelfth place on the grid.
Behind him, Lee Holdsworth briefly assumed second place, but he was quickly overcome by Steven Johnson and Craig Lowndes, who completed the podium when the chequered flag was unfurled, while Holdsworth finished in fourth place.
Will Davison finished an excellent fifth after pitting just before the first safety car interruption, and the net gain in track position saw him finish some fifteen places higher than he started the race.
Tony D’Alberto survived a collision with Jason Bright to finish a strong sixth, while van Gisbergen finished seventh after throwing away a chance at winning the race, or at least finishing on the podium. The top-ten was completed by Jason Bargwanna, Jamie Whincup and Steve Owen.
A frustrated Winterbottom finished in 15th place, having had a certain victory go begging.
And it was a poor day for the Holden Racing Team, with Garth Tander finishing 18th after a stop-go penalty for a pit lane infringement, while team-mate James Courtney’s horror title defence continued when he finished 25th and last after picking up a puncture during the race.
V8 Supercars SkyCity Triple Crown Final Classification (Race 1 – 42 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||54:30.8593|
|2.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 2.5117|
|3.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||+ 4.5271|
|4.||Lee Holdsworth||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 5.4847|
|5.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||+ 6.0642|
|6.||Tony D’Alberto||Wilson Security / Tony D’Alberto Racing||+ 6.4400|
|7.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 6.6429|
|8.||Jason Bargwanna||Jana Living / Brad Jones Racing||+ 7.3032|
|9.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||+ 8.4525|
|10.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 12.8577|
|11.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 12.9303|
|12.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||+ 13.0004|
|13.||Fabian Coulthard||Bundaberg / Walkinsaw Racing||+ 13.4879|
|14.||James Moffat||Jim Beam / Dick Johnson Racing||+ 13.8506|
|15.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||+ 15.6222|
|16.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 16.9969|
|17.||Dean Fiore||Triple F Racing||+ 17.5350|
|18.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 18.4046|
|19.||Alex Davison||Irwin / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 18.7288|
|20.||Paul Dumbrell||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||+ 22.4280|
|21.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 22.8906|
|22.||Jonathon Webb||Mother Energy Racing Team / Tekno||+ 23.1649|
|23.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 24.0335|
|24.||Warren Luff||Gulf Western Oil Racing / Lucas Dumbrell||+ 1 laps|
|25.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 2 laps|
|DNF.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Brad Jones Racing||38 laps|
|DNF.||Jason Bright||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||9 laps|
|DNF.||David Reynolds||Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing||9 laps|