Mark Winterbottom has claimed his third win of the 2012 season

On the eve of his 31st birthday, Mark Winterbottom has claimed victory in the first race of this weekend’s V8 Supercars Phillip Island 300.

The Ford Performance Racing driver’s win was well-earned in an action-packed race that featured geese invading the circuit and a late-race collision between the two leading championship contenders, Jamie Whincup and Will Davison.

The retirements for Whincup and Davison have effectively brought the championship challenge back to life, with Winterbottom now overtaking team-mate Davison to move into second place in the championship standings, a scant ten points shy of points leader Whincup.

Starting from pole, Winterbottom was beaten off the front row by FPR team-mate David Reynolds, while Davison leapt into third place on the opening lap courtesy of a great start.

It was an FPR 1-2-3 until the first round of pit stops, with Reynolds and Winterbottom peeling off into the pits to make the compulsory pit stops. Disaster would strike the luckless Reynolds when his fuel rig failed, which allowed Winterbottom to nip ahead while Reynolds was forced to pit again for the extra fuel and would finish no better than 21st.

Davison had remained out on track before pitting a lap later, and used an excellent in-lap to emerge ahead of Winterbottom as he left the pits. His lead would be short-lived, with Winterbottom moving ahead after the pair ran side-by-side for several corners of outstanding car control.

There was plenty of drama further down the order. The opening lap saw Tony D’Alberto bumped off the circuit, with the Ford driver forced into the kitty litter as he was shuffled to last place. A lap later and French import Alexandre Premat was out of the race, with his GRM Holden looking worse for wear after copping a mighty hit at the rear by Russell Ingall.

That brought out a short safety car interruption to remove his stranded car from near the pit entry, and it was on again for young and old shortly after when Craig Lowndes hit Jason Bright at Honda Corner, earning the TeamVodafone driver a drive-through penalty for his troubles.

A second safety car interruption came courtesy of a pair of geese that flew in to graze near the circuit’s edge late in the race!

Once the errant birds were chased away by some marshals, the restart brought about a thrilling battle in the final six laps of the race.

Winterbottom skipped away into the lead, leaving Davison to defend himself against attacks from a fast-closing Shane van Gisbergen.

Tim Slade, Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander were also in the mix, and it rather predictably came to a dire end when Slade and Davison made contact, breaking the latter’s steering and sending a hapless Davison careering into Whincup at Honda Corner.

Van Gisbergen emerged from the melee to finish second, while Slade narrowly held out Tander to complete an all-Ford podium. The top ten was completed by Lee Holdsworth, Rick Kelly, Jonathon Webb, Jason Bright, Michael Patrizi and Steve Owen.

Tomorrow’s action will see the 28-car field contest a longer 200-kilometre race, preceded by a twenty-minute qualifying session.

2012 V8 Supercars Phillip Island 300 – Race 1 Result (32 laps):

Driver Entry / Team Laps Result
1. Mark Winterbottom Ford Orrcon Steel / Ford Performance Racing 32 55:50.2117
2. Shane van Gisbergen Ford SP Tools / Stone Brothers Racing 32 + 6.3894
3. Tim Slade Ford Lucky 7 Racing / Stone Brothers Racing 32 + 8.5709
4. Garth Tander Holden TOLL / Holden Racing Team 32 + 8.6696
5. Lee Holdsworth Ford Irwin Racing / Stone Brothers Racing 32 + 8.9877
6. Rick Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing 32 + 9.3698
7. Jonathon Webb Holden Tekno Autosports 32 + 10.6090
8. Jason Bright Holden Team BOC / Brad Jones Racing 32 + 10.8243
9. Michael Patrizi Holden Tekno Autosports 32 + 11.2919
10. Steve Owen Ford VIP Petfoods / Dick Johnson Racing 32 + 14.4236
11. Russell Ingall Holden Supercheap Auto / Walkinshaw Racing 32 + 14.9553
12. Todd Kelly Holden Jack Daniel’s / Kelly Racing 32 + 15.5534
13. Craig Lowndes Holden Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing 32 + 15.7424
14. Tony D’Alberto Ford HIFLEX Racing / Tony D’Alberto Racing 32 + 16.3723
15. David Wall Holden Wilson Security / Brad Jones Racing 32 + 17.6206
16. Karl Reindler Holden Fair Dinkum Sheds / Kelly Racing 32 + 17.7758
17. Dean Fiore Ford Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing 32 + 18.2528
18. James Courtney Holden TOLL / Holden Racing Team 32 + 18.4985
19. Steven Johnson Ford Jim Beam Racing / Dick Johnson Racing 32 + 19.8532
20. Taz Douglas Holden Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport 32 + 22.4265
21. David Reynolds Ford The Bottle-O Racing Team / Rod Nash 32 + 29.0871
22. Fabian Coulthard Holden Lockwood Racing / Brad Jones Racing 32 + 29.1260
23. Michael Caruso Holden Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport 31 + 1 lap
24. Greg Murphy Holden Pepsi Max Crew / Kelly Racing 29 + 3 laps
  Not Classified        
DNF. Will Davison Ford Trading Post / Ford Performance Racing 28 Collision
DNF. Jamie Whincup Holden Team Vodafone / Triple 8 Racing 28 Collision
DNF. James Moffat Ford Team Norton / Dick Johnson Racing 10 Mechanical
DNF. Alexandre Prémat Holden Fujitsu Racing / Garry Rogers Motorsport 1 Collision

A double-billing of F1 and V8s at Abu Dhabi!

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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.