Rick Kelly has claimed victory in teeming conditions in the first of this weekend’s V8 Supercars race at Sandown Raceway, mirroring his win earlier this year in the wet at Hamilton. The Jack Daniel’s Holden driver won by 3.7 seconds ahead of outgoing champion James Courtney, while team-mate Todd Kelly finished third.
Further down the order, a circumspect championship leader Jamie Whincup drove cautiously in the soaking conditions, falling down the field to 13th, after starting on the front row.
But his team-mate and sole championship rival Craig Lowndes threw caution to the wind after his disastrous performance in qualifying. Starting from the last row of the grid, the Team Vodafone Holden driver cut through the field, finishing a hugely impressive sixth to narrow the championship gap to Whincup to 158 points.
At the front of the field, Kelly remained in control of the race throughout, and managed the race’s three safety car interruptions with great effect.
Kelly’s mid-race lead over Courtney was wiped out with the second full-course caution, which was triggered by Greg Murphy binning his Holden on Lap 21.
Just a few laps of green-flag conditions later, and another safety car interruption. This time it was Jason Bargwanna who had crashed, although the Brad Jones Holden driver blamed James Moffat (Dick Johnson Ford) for tipping him into the wall at high speed.
Up at the front, Kelly managed his race restarts to perfection and kept Courtney at bay to claim his first win since the Darwin round.
Courtney finally found some form in what has been an awful year as defending champion, overtaking Will Davison (Ford Performance Racing) and Shane van Gisbergen (Stone Brothers Ford) to finish second, while the elder Kelly brother claimed third place on the final lap.
V8 Supercars Norton 360 Sandown Challenge Final Classification (Race 1 – 37 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Result|
|1.||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||58:57.5869|
|2.||James Courtney||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 3.7225|
|3.||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing||+ 4.4068|
|4.||Will Davison||Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing||+ 4.8955|
|5.||Shane van Gisbergen||SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 5.8200|
|6.||Craig Lowndes||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||+ 6.3721|
|7.||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing||+ 7.4869|
|8.||Garth Tander||TOLL / Holden Racing Team||+ 9.8719|
|9.||Fabian Coulthard||Bundaberg / Walkinshaw Racing||+ 9.9133|
|10.||Steve Owen||VIP Petfoods / Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 13.0046|
|11.||Jonathon Webb||Mother Energy Racing Team / Tekno||+ 14.9376|
|12.||Paul Dumbrell||The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash||+ 15.0599|
|13.||Jamie Whincup||Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Race Engineering||+ 15.6764|
|14.||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto / Paul Morris Motorsport||+ 15.8810|
|15.||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 17.7658|
|16.||Alex Davison||Irwin / Stone Brothers Racing||+ 20.0634|
|17.||Lee Holdsworth||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 21.1659|
|18.||David Reynolds||Stratco Racing / Kelly Racing||+ 23.5031|
|19.||Andrew Jones||Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing||+ 23.5471|
|20.||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds / Brad Jones Racing||+ 25.6118|
|21.||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport||+ 27.8088|
|22.||Warren Luff||Gulf Western Oil Racing / Lucas Dumbrell||+ 32.6220|
|23.||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam / Dick Johnson Racing||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||James Moffat||Jim Beam / Dick Johnson Racing||33 laps|
|DNF.||Dean Fiore||Westrac Racing / Triple F Racing||33 laps|
|DNF.||Jason Bargwanna||Jana Living / Brad Jones Racing||28 laps|
|DNF.||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing||20 laps|
|DNF.||Tony D’Alberto||Wilson Security / Tony D’Alberto Racing||11 laps|
[Image via Kelly Racing; video via V8 Supercars]