Jamie Whincup is now one race win short of joining Triple Eight Engineering teammate Craig Lowndes in claiming 100 career touring car victories after winning the opening race of the Townsville 400 round.

The six-time series champion dominated proceedings over the 70-lap race, starting from pole position and going on to win from teammate Shane van Gisbergen by almost 3.6 seconds. Whincup was briefly threatened by van Gisbergen thanks to a late Safety Car interruption compressing the field, but he was never seriously challenged for victory on the run to the chequered flag thanks to two lapped backmarkers splitting the Red Bull Racing Holdens.

The win ended a lengthy drought in top-step podium visits for Whincup – now an eight-time winner at the Red Park circuit – who last tasted the victory champagne at the season-opening Adelaide Clipsal 500.

Defending series champion Mark Winterbottom beat home Prodrive Racing stablemate Chaz Mostert to claim the final podium position. Mostert had run in second place ahead of van Gisbergen, but his tyres faded on his final stint and he was overtaken by both the New Zealander and Winterbottom in the closing stages of the race.

Will Davison powered his TEKNO Autosports Holden to fifth place, beating James Courtney’s HRT Commodore by inches in a tense sprint to the chequered flag. Courtney’s teammate Garth Tander put in an impressive recovery drive to finish seventh after qualifying a dreadful 20th.

Fabian Coulthard finished eighth in his DJR Team Penske Ford ahead of the Nissans of Michael Caruso and Todd Kelly, the latter celebrating his 500th Australian touring car race start.

The 200-kilometre race featured plenty of panel-bending action over its 70 laps. Championship contender Scott McLaughlin was the highest-profile victim after contact with Dale Wood and finished 24th after pitting for repairs.

He finished ahead of rookie driver Kurt Kostecki – making his debut for Charlie Schwerkolt Racing in place of the injured Lee Holdsworth – who crashed his Holden at Turn 11 with less than 20 laps of the race to run and spent a lengthy period in the pits fixing the damage.

Also in the wars were Tim Slade and Rick Kelly, with the latter tipping the former into a spin on the second lap of the race – Kelly was later handed a drive-through penalty for his error – while Nick Percat was the race’s sole retiree when his LDM Holden stopped with broken steering.

2016 Australian Supercars Castrol EDGE Townsville 400 – Race 14 Top-10 Finishers (70 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering 1:31:34.872
2. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering + 3.577
3. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 5.104
4. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 6.696
5. Will Davison TEKNO Autosports + 7.871
6. James Courtney Holden Racing Team + 7.885
7. Garth Tander Holden Racing Team + 8.453
8. Fabian Coulthard DJR Team Penske + 8.711
9. Michael Caruso Nissan Motorsport + 9.247
10. Todd Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 9.513

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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