Nissan Motorsport driver Michael Caruso has claimed victory in Saturday’s Darwin Triple Crown race at Hidden Valley Raceway, beating home Jamie Whincup and Chaz Mostert with a dominant drive.

Caruso became the season’s tenth different winner in twelve races to-date in 2016, claiming the second race win of his V8 Supercars career. His maiden race win came at the same circuit in 2009 driving for Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Caruso made a blinding getaway at the start of the race to lead the field by the first corner, but the field was quickly compressed behind him after the Safety Car was called. The interruption was due to Garth Tander’s door coming loose, which was one of a number of incidents in a contact-filled opening lap of the race.

The race restart on Lap 5 would prove to be controversial. Deliberately or otherwise, Caruso was very slow off the final corner and that allowed pole-sitter Shane van Gisbergen to draw alongside him on the run to the green flag. Van Gisbergen would jump too early, however, and overtook the Nissan driver before they passed the start/finish line.

He was quickly handed a drive-through penalty, handing the lead of the race to TEKNO Autosport’s Will Davison, who had overtaken Caruso further around the restart lap.

Nissan wasted little time in getting Caruso into the pits early when the compulsory pit stop window opened; that allowed him to get the jump on Davison and ensure he had a healthy lead once the field had cycled through their pit stops.

From that point on, only a mistake or mechanical drama was going to deny Caruso a richly-deserved victory. While Whincup – who emerged victorious in an exciting mid-race scrap with Davison and Ford driver Chaz Mostert – was able to close and briefly threaten him, Caruso had enough in hand and finished the 42-lap race with a 1.7-second margin to the Red Bull Racing driver.

Davison finished a solid fourth ahead of the DJR Team Penske Fords of Scott Pye and Fabian Coulthard, while Caruso’s teammate Todd Kelly finished seventh ahead of Lee Holdsworth, Mark Winterbottom, and Scott McLaughlin.

Craig Lowndes recovered to finish in eleventh place after being one of the victims of the chaotic opening lap when he was tipped into a spin by Rick Kelly and Tim Slade. The third Triple Eight Engineering Holden of van Gisbergen finished sixteenth after serving his pit lane drive-though penalty.

The racing action continues on Sunday with a 200-kilometre Feature Race.

2016 V8 Supercars CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown – Race 12 Top-10 Finishers (42 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport 50:12.373
2. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering + 1.780
3. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 5.088
4. Will Davison TEKNO Autosports + 6.035
5. Scott Pye DJR Team Penske + 7.194
6. Fabian Coulthard DJR Team Penske + 9.609
7. Todd Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 12.534
8. Lee Holdsworth Charlie Schwerkolt Racing + 13.106
9. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 14.513
10. Scott McLaughlin Polestar GRM Volvo + 15.405

Image via V8X

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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