Shane van Gisbergen has led a Red Bull Racing 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Jamie Whincup in the opening Supercars Championship race at Sydney Motorsport Park. The result marked the Triple Eight Engineering stable’s sixth straight victory.
Starting behind the polesitting Prodrive Racing Ford of Chaz Mostert, the duo made short work of the youngster on the opening lap to move into first and second places.
Whincup ran in van Gisbergen’s wheel tracks and briefly assumed the lead for three laps when the New Zealander made his compulsory tyre change. Unable to take enough advantage of the free track in front of him, he rejoined in fourth place behind teammate Craig Lowndes and the GRM Volvo of Scott McLaughlin.
His fresher tyres proved decisive, allowing him easily dispose of the duo before resuming his chase of van Gisbergen for the lead.
Van Gisbergen would hold on in the end despite a close moment between the two when Whincup drew level at Turn 2, crossing the finish line with just a quarter of a second in hand to deny Whincup his one-hundredth touring car race win.
Sydney Motorsport Park’s high tyre-wearing character played a decisive role in shaping pit strategies and the outcome of the race, with the field juggling between the choice of an early pit stop to gain track position, or running a long first stint to guarantee pace later in the race.
Third place went to James Courtney – who charged from eighth place after his visit to the pits – to atone for the Holden Racing Team’s disappointment at the announcement that it will lose its factory backing at the end of the season.
Mostert crossed the line in fourth ahead of McLaughlin and Lowndes, while Tim Slade, Garth Tander, Rick Kelly and Fabian Coulthard completed the top-ten. Coulthard’s DJR Team Penske teammate Scott Pye should have finished in the top-ten judging by his early race pace, but was sidelined when his Ford suffered a power steering failure after eight laps.
Defending champion Mark Winterbottom failed to improve on his ninth-placed qualifying position and finished in eleventh place, losing more vital championship points to his Red Bull Racing rivals.
Karl Reindler, standing in for the recovering Lee Holdsworth, finished 22nd for CS Racing his first solo outing since 2012, while series debutant Shae Davies was last of the 25 classified finishers in his first race for Erebus Motorsport.
The Supercars grid will stage the weekend’s second and final race, over 200 kilometres, on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (GMT +10).
|2016 Australian Supercars Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint – Race 18 Top-10 Finishers (31 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||Triple Eight Engineering||48:51.041|
|2.||Jamie Whincup||Triple Eight Engineering||+ 0.246|
|3.||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||+ 3.138|
|4.||Chaz Mostert||Rod Nash Racing||+ 3.817|
|5.||Scott McLaughlin||Polestar GRM Volvo||+ 13.481|
|6.||Craig Lowndes||Triple Eight Engineering||+ 14.095|
|7.||Tim Slade||Brad Jones Racing||+ 14.980|
|8.||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||+ 15.107|
|9.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||+ 23.112|
|10.||Fabian Coulthard||DJR Team Penske||+ 23.351|
Image via Red Bull Content Pool