Jim Beam Racing’s James Courtney has made it a hat-trick of race victories with another dominant drive to take victory in the opening race of the V8 Supercars round at Winton Raceway, on the back of taking both race victories at Ipswich a fortnight earlier.

James Courtney won the opening race at Winton Despite securing pole position, the former Jaguar test driver lost the lead to Garth Tander off the start line. A slow pit stop for the HRT driver was enough to see Courtney leapfrog the West Australian, but a very quick stop from Team Vodafone’s Jamie Whincup saw the defending champion emerge from his pit stop neck-and-neck with Courtney, who was bearing down along the pit straight.

The two raced side-by-side through the opening corners, but Courtney used his better tyre temperatures to sweep past Whincup around the outside, and was never headed on his way to victory.

Craig Lowndes drove a storming second half of the race to vault to second place by the flag fall, being among the last of the drivers to make his compulsory pit stop and emerging in 14th place. However, he used his fresher tyres to his advantage, almost picking off his rivals ahead at will and climbing to second place in just eleven laps.

Had he have had a few more laps to run, he might have even challenged Courtney for the lead, but one sense that the Dick Johnson backed racer had everything under control on his way to victory.

Whincup took an eventual third, and spent the last part of his race defending against Steven Johnson.

Shane van Gisbergen continued his promising season with a hard-fought climb to fifth place, mirroring Lowndes’ late-pit stop strategy to climb up 14 positions in just 20 laps.

Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards looked set for a potential fifth and sixth placed finish, respectively, until they tagged one another trying to fend off Jonathon Webb.

The HRT boys also tried their own self-destruction routine, with Garth Tander tagging Will Davison trying to go for a gap that simply wasn’t there.

Race 1 Final Classification:

  Driver   Team Result
1. James Courtney Ford Jim Beam Racing 57:49.157
2. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone + 3.802
3. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone + 16.443
4. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing + 17.586
5. Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools Racing + 20.331
6. Todd Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 34.065
7. Jason Bright Holden Trading Post Racing + 35.739
8. Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 38.046
9. Tony D’Alberto Holden Centaur Racing + 38.747
10. Lee Holdsworth Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 39.493
11. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto Racing + 40.858
12. Tim Slade Ford Wilson Security Racing + 42.740
13. Greg Murphy Holden Castrol Edge Racing + 44.030
14. Steve Richards Ford Ford Performance Racing + 44.393
15. Mark Winterbottom Ford Ford Performance Racing + 45.378
16. Alex Davison Ford IRWIN Racing + 48.292
17. Garth Tander Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team + 50.807
18. Ricky Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 51.029
19. Jason Richards Holden Team BOC + 51.434
20. Fabian Coulthard Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 51.874
21. Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing + 52.414
22. Will Davison Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team + 59.993
23. Jason Bargwanna Holden ROCK Racing + 1:04.315
24. Dean Fiore Ford Triple F Racing + 1:04.381
25. Daniel Gaunt Holden Gulf Western Oil Racing + 1:08.285
26. Jonathon Webb Ford Dick Johnson Racing + 1:12.412
27. Tony Ricciardello Holden Stratco Racing + 1:12.969
28. Paul Dumbrell Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team + 1:27.980
  Not Classified      
  Andrew Thompson Holden Bundaberg Red Racing 1 lap

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.