Will Davison has claimed his first race win as a TEKNO Autosports driver in Sunday’s feature race of the TyrePower Tasmania Challenge at Symmons Plains Raceway.

Davison lucked into victory when disaster struck for the man he replaced in the off-season, Shane van Gisbergen, slid off the circuit at the Turn 4 hairpin with five laps remaining after catching oil dropped by Cameron Waters’ hobbled Ford Falcon.

Van Gisbergen looked on course to claim a clean sweep of the weekend’s two races in Tasmania until he became one of several drivers to be caught out on the suddenly greasy track surface.

The New Zealander was comfortably keeping the Prodrive Ford of reigning champion Mark Winterbottom at bay in the closing stages of the race until both tripped up on the approach to the tight left-hander.

Winterbottom started from pole position alongside van Gisbergen, successfully elbowing the Kiwi driver aside in an exciting opening lap to take the lead.

His joy would be short-lived however, as van Gisbergen quickly pounced to claim the lead on Lap 3. Wrong-footed by van Gisbergen’s pass, Winterbottom was promptly overtaken by the second Red Bull Holden of Jamie Whincup as well.

The field was neutralised just two laps later when Chris Pither had his second major accident of the season. The Super Black Racing Ford driver appeared to try and close the door on Nick Percat’s Holden as the pair battled exiting the hairpin, but was tipped into a spin by the LDM driver. Pither’s car slide at speed into the trackside barriers, resulting in major damage to his car but fortunately with no injuries to himself.

Almost the entire field took the opportunity to make their first pit stops; second-placed Whincup was the biggest loser as he was forced to double stack behind van Gisbergen and rejoined in thirteenth place.

Winterbottom was promoted back to second place, and when racing resumed he again took the fight to van Gisbergen. It was a fierce scrap with much nudging and paint-swapping that was ultimately resolved in favour of the Holden driver.

A second full-course yellow was brought on by the recovering Whincup, who – having fought his way back into the top-ten – threw away a potentially better result when he slid into the Turn 4 gravel trap on cold tyres immediately after his second pit stop.

There was also drama for Tim Blanchard and Rick Kelly, who were both retirees thanks to a broken front splitter and overheating rear brakes respectively.

The race looked to be resolved in van Gisbergen’s favour when Waters’ engine blew on approach to the hairpin. Van Gisbergen caught the slippery patch – along with half a dozen other drivers – and slid into the fringes of the gravel trap, closely followed by Winterbottom.

That allowed Davison – who had earlier been stripped of pole position after being ruled to have obstructed another car in qualifying – to sweep through to take the lead and claim the Drivers’ Championship lead from van Gisbergen as a result.

Series veteran Craig Lowndes – who was passed by Davison just before the Turn 4 chaos – managed to tip-toe his way through the mess to finish in second place, while Winterbottom managed to recover from his slip-up at the same corner to salvage third place.

Van Gisbergen had no such luck; his Holden was firmly beached in the gravel and that meant he was classed as a retiree from a race that he had comfortably dominated.

Scott McLaughlin bounced back from engine dramas in his Volvo on Saturday to finish a solid fourth ahead of Chaz Mostert’s Prodrive-run Ford, while Holden Racing Team duo Garth Tander and James Courtney recovered from poor qualifying performances to finish sixth and seventh respectively.

The V8 Supercars Championship continues at Phillip Island in two weeks’ time.

2016 V8 Supercars TyrePower Tasmania SuperSprint – Race 5 Top-10 Finishers (84 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Will Davison TEKNO Autosports 1:20:54.273
2. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering + 2.570
3. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 3.981
4. Scott McLaughlin Polestar GRM Volvo + 6.394
5. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 8.545
6. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 9.630
7. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 15.725
8. Fabian Coulthard DJR Team Penske + 19.381
9. Lee Holdsworth Charlie Schwerkolt Racing + 20.897
10. Jason Bright Brad Jones Racing + 25.316

Image via V8 Supercars

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Geoff Burke

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