Despite suffering extensive damage to the front-right corner of his Holden Commodore – and amidst howls of protest from rival teams that he wasn’t mechanically black-flagged for the loose bodywork flailing about his car – Tander brought his car home to win, with McConville having driven impressively to build enough of a gap to cover off the 10-second stop-go penalty he had picked up for jumping the start.
Their victory was assured when championship leader James Courtney was hauled in for a penalty for dropping too far back behind the Safety Car.
The event is unique on the V8 Supercars calendar for featuring a host of international drivers from other motor racing fields such as Formula 1, IndyCars, the World Touring Car Championship and sports car racing.
With limited, if any, experience of racing V8 Supercars and with the majority of the international drivers starting the 102-lap race from a standing start with full fuel tanks on a street circuit, there was bound to be carnage.
And it duly came in the form of Jacques Villeneuve, who started brilliantly from the second row and quickly overtook Courtney’s co-driver, Warren Luff off the grid. The problem for Villeneuve was that Luke Youlden (partnering FPR driver Mark Winterbottom) had made an even better start, and aimed to pass the Canadian on his right.
But as Villeneuve moved right to assume the racing line, Youdlen was in the way and pitched into the concrete barriers.
The action didn’t stop for Villeneuve, who was hit from behind at Turn 2 by Greg Ritter and tipped into a spin, causing all hell to break loose as up to a dozen cars were either caught up in the accident, or held up with the partially-blocked track. The incident forced the immediate retirements of Will Power and Gianni Morbidelli.
The rest of the race was able to continue, with much of the 32-car grid carrying battle scars of some description from the panel-rubbing incidents in the opening laps.
Michael Caruso drove impressively to fight his way up to second place, while another driver to show impressive pace was Sébastien Bourdais, who enjoyed a brief period in the lead during the pit stops and posted some pacesetting lap times along the way.
With many of the main drivers back behind the wheel before half-distance, Courtney and Craig Lowndes set about working their way up the order to close down on Tander, who had caused the (later) controversial damage to his Holden when he clipped a tyre barrier and started to shed pieces of his car.
Courtney managed to pass Tander for the lead, but his efforts went up in smoke when he was hit with the stop-go penalty for his antics behind the Safety Car, while race officials displayed their ever-consistent standard of stewardship by firstly penalising Tander – and later withdrawing the mechanical black flag penalty.
The stewards would later create more confusion with their inconsistent decisions by electing not to penalise Jason Bright for tipping his team-mate Jason Richards into a spin with just a handful of laps to go. Bright went on to finish sixth, while Richards finished a disappointing 15th.
Shane van Gisbergen was another who climbed up the order, and pulled a brilliant overtaking move on Jamie Whincup in the closing stages of the race en route to third place with his co-driver John McIntyre.
Race 1 Final Classification (102 laps):
[Original image via ABC]
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