Shane van Gisbergen has emerged on top in a thrilling three-way Triple Eight Engineering scrap to claim victory in the opening Ipswich SuperSprint race at Queensland Raceway, overtaking teammate Jamie Whincup on the final lap of the race.

Whincup held the lead early on, taking advantage of a near coming-together between Ford stablemates Chaz Mostert and maiden pole-winner Chris Pither as they disputed first place through the opening sequence of corners.

Lowndes and van Gisbergen also picked their way through the frantic action on the opening laps, with van Gisbergen ultimately cementing victory by opting to run an alternate pit strategy to Whincup. With fresher tyres at the end of the race, van Gisbergen picked off Lowndes when the veteran driver locked up his brakes with four laps to go, and then set about closing down Whincup.

The pair were nose-to-tail on the penultimate lap, and van Gisbergen got the better drive exiting the final corner to sweep into the lead at Turn 1 on the last lap of the race. Whincup didn’t have the speed or grip to launch a counter-attack and had to settle for second place.

Behind the all-Triple Eight podium came defending series champion Mark Winterbottom in his Prodrive Racing Ford, while his stablemate Mostert was fifth.

Tim Slade pushed his Brad Jones Racing Holden to sixth place from ninth on the grid, running a long first stint to gain track position with a shorter compulsory pit stop.

Will Davison (TEKNO Autosports) and Rick Kelly (Nissan Motorsport) rounded out the top eight, while James Moffat was the best-placed Volvo in ninth; his teammate Scott McLaughlin had a poor race in his S60 and finished a lowly fifteenth to dampen his hopes of remaining in the championship fight.

Ahead of Sunday’s 65-lap feature race, Whincup’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship has been marginally trimmed to 41 points over van Gisbergen, while Winterbottom sits in third place, 93 points behind.

2016 Australian Supercars Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint – Race 16 Top-10 Finishers (38 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time
1. Shane van Gisbergen Triple Eight Engineering 45:59.357
2. Jamie Whincup Triple Eight Engineering + 0.823
3. Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Engineering + 1.089
4. Mark Winterbottom Prodrive Racing Australia + 1.333
5. Chaz Mostert Rod Nash Racing + 1.835
6. Tim Slade Brad Jones Racing + 7.267
7. Will Davison TEKNO Autosports + 25.374
8. Rick Kelly Nissan Motorsport + 26.505
9. James Moffat Polestar GRM Volvo + 27.266
10. Fabian Coulthard DJR Team Penske + 27.498

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Geoff Burke

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