Mark Winterbottom Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom (pictured) has bounced back from a horror start to the season by finally taking his first win of the 2010 season, winning the opening race of the Skycity Triple Crown at Darwin’s Hidden Valley circuit, successfully fending off the advances of Jamie Whincup’s Vodafone Holden.

James Courtney’s four-race winning streak had to come to an end at some stage, as the former Jaguar F1 test driver finished fifth overall in the opening race.

Starting from pole, Winterbottom led off the line, and gained a further advantage by pitting a couple of laps ahead of the chasing pack, perhaps allowing the fresher rubber to get up to temperature more effectively than his rivals. Winterbottom perhaps began to coast to the flag in the closing laps, allowing Jamie Whincup to close the gap but not get past.

The third placed finisher was the ever-improving and equally impressive Shane van Gisbergen, who took on four fresh tyres during his pit stop – as opposed to just changing the rear tyres in the fashion adopted by most of his rivals – to climb steadily through the order and complete the rostrum.

Like Winterbottom, another man who has battled a difficult season to-date has been Jason Richards. But the New Zealander has typically always driven well in Darwin, and used his nous to snatch a position in the top-ten qualifying shoot-out. Pitting early in the race allowed him to climb the order up to third, which he eventually would lose to van Gisbergen.

Race 1 Final Classification:

  Driver   Team Result
1. Mark Winterbottom Ford Ford Performance Racing 51:17.845
2. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone + 0.787
3. Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools Racing + 21.680
4. Jason Richards Holden Team BOC + 27.306
5. James Courtney Ford Jim Beam Racing + 30.220
6. Tim Slade Ford Wilson Security Racing + 30.676
7. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone + 31.896
8. Paul Dumbrell Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team + 32.694
9. Todd Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 35.020
10. Garth Tander Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team + 35.756
11. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto Racing + 35.868
12. Jason Bright Holden Trading Post Racing + 36.756
13. Tony D’Alberto Holden Centaur Racing + 40.516
14. Rick Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s Racing + 45.740
15. Alex Davison Ford IRWIN Racing + 46.022
16. Greg Murphy Holden Castrol Edge Racing + 46.539
17. Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 52.091
18. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing + 56.208
19. Jason Bargwanna Holden ROCK Racing + 56.758
20. Dean Fiore Ford Triple F Racing + 1:00.162
21. Andrew Thompson Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 1:02.721
22. Lee Holdsworth Holden Fujitsu Racing / GRM + 1:05.280
23. Fabian Coulthard Holden Bundaberg Red Racing + 1:06.157
24. Jonathon Webb Ford Dick Johnson Racing + 1:06.389
25. Tony Ricciardello Holden Stratco Racing + 1 lap
26. Daniel Gaunt Holden Gulf Western Oil Racing + 1 lap
  Not Classified      
  Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing 29 laps
  Steve Richards Ford Ford Performance Racing 27 laps
  Will Davison Holden TOLL Holden Racing Team 1 laps

[Original image via Townsville Bulletin]

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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.