Prodrive Racing’s Mark Winterbottom has won a lights to flag victory in the opening race of the Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Team-mate Chaz Mostert followed closely in second while James Courtney rounded out the podium positions.

The race started under a rolling start format which saw the field bunched up in lines of two. Every car managed to get through the dangerous first two corners unharmed, however on the run to Turn Three contact was made between Marcus Ambrose and Tim Blanchard, with the latter being spun around. Ash Walsh’s Mercedes was a casualty of their incident and both he and Blanchard were forced to retire.

The safety car was brought out after the first lap incident where the field was able to bunch up again. Scott McLaughlin encountered his own first lap problems as he was nudged off the track and found himself drop to the back end of the grid.

After the safety car pulled into the pits racing resumed on lap four, where David Reynolds ran wide off the circuit. His trip through the gravel trap saw him drop from fourth to 19th position.

Despite putting in a fastest lap on lap seven, Courtney was unable to challenge the two Prodrive drivers, as Winterbottom responded two laps later with a fastest lap of his own.

The Red Bull Racing duo had clean races where both drivers were able to improve on their qualifying performance. Jamie Whincup started in ninths and finished sixth while Craig Lowndes jumped from 13th to 10th.

 Images via George Hitchens Photography

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Josh Kruse

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