Shane van Gisbergen has extended his lead in the Supercars Championship standings to 160 points after he and co-driver Alexandre Prémat claimed victory in a crash-strewn opening leg of the Castrol Gold Coast 600.

After being the pacesetters through practice before going on to claim pole position for Saturday’s 300-kilometre race, the pair caused their own drama when Premat was issued with a 10-second pit lane ‘hold’ penalty at his next pit stop for violating the rules under Safety Car conditions.

Premat appeared to accelerate too early to give himself a gap before the Safety Car peeled into the pits, prompting officials to immediately hand the #97 Red Bull Racing Holden the punishment of a longer pit stop for their troubles.

Despite this setback, such was the pace of the duo that they still managed to emerge in front of the GRM Volvo of Scott McLaughlin / David Wall to claim victory. Van Gisbergen’s teammate Jamie Whincup and his co-driver Paul Dumbrell completed the podium.

The conclusion of the race was via a two-lap sprint to the flag thanks to a lengthy and late Safety Car interruption triggered by a terrifying crash for Fabian Coulthard. The New Zealander and his co-driver Luke Youlden had steadily worked their way through the field after a poor qualifying performance to be running in fifth place in the closing stages of the race before disaster struck.

Pursued by the visibly quicker HRT Holden of Garth Tander, Coulthard was valiantly keeping the former series champion at bay until the start of the 96th lap when Tander appeared to tip the DJR Team Penske Ford into the fence while the pair was travelling at over 265km/h.

The #12 entry was comprehensively destroyed in the smash – a shaken Coulthard was uninjured in the contact – and race officials quickly hit Tander with a pit-lane drive-through penalty and a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s second race leg. It is doubtful that Coulthard and Youlden will be on track for the remainder of the weekend.

Fourth place went to the #5 Prodrive Racing Ford of Mark Winterbottom / Dean Canto, which ran the alternate strategy of having Winterbottom run in the opening and closing stints while the rest of the field started with their co-drivers behind the wheel.

The Coulthard/Tander accident promoted the second Volvo of James Moffat / James Golding to fifth.

That wasn’t the only big accident in a race interrupted by a number of Safety Cars as several drivers came to grief around the tight Surfers Paradise street circuit.

David Reynolds’ co-driver Craig Baird was tagged the #23 Nissan Altima of Michael Caruso / Dean Fiore early on Lap 3, which itself copped a hit from behind by the Bathurst 1000 winning TEKNO Autosports Holden piloted by Jonathon Webb. That triggered a multi-car accident at Turn 4 that saw the #18 CS Racing Holden piloted by Lee Holdsworth’s co-driver Karl Reindler get airborne as he tried to thread his way past the mess.

Reindler – who had been a vocal critic of the lack of practice track time given to the co-drivers this weekend – would trigger the race’s second Safety Car interruption when he broke his steering. The former full-time driver hit the walls exiting the Turns 1/2/3 chicane, pinballing him into the outside wall, much to the disbelief of the luckless Holdsworth.

Just a dozen laps before, Cameron Waters’ co-driver Jack Le Brocq clobbered the apex of Turn 12 and crashed out, triggering the first wave of pit stops for fuel and fresh tyres.

Also having an early bath was the Bathurst 1000 podium-finishing pairing of Nick Percat and Cameron McConville in the #222 LD Motorsports Holden, which was eliminated with heavy accident damage caused by an errant lunge from Tim Slade co-driver Ash Walsh.

2016 Australian Supercars Castrol Gold Coast 600 – Race 22 Classification (102 laps)
Pos Driver Team / Entry Result
1. Shane van Gisbergen / Alexandre Premat Triple Eight Engineering 2:21:45.549
2. Scott McLaughlin / David Wall Polestar GRM Volvo + 0.611
3. Jamie Whincup / Paul Dumbrell Triple Eight Engineering + 1.141
4. Mark Winterbottom / Dean Canto Prodrive Racing + 5.660
5. James Moffat / James Golding Polestar GRM Volvo + 7.373
6. Craig Lowndes / Steven Richards Triple Eight Engineering + 7.525
7. Dale Wood / David Russell Nissan Motorsport + 8.634
8. Todd Kelly / Matt Campbell Nissan Motorsport + 9.683
9. Chaz Mostert / Steve Owen Rod Nash Racing + 10.829
10. Chris Pither / Richie Stanaway Super Black Racing + 12.055
11. Tim Slade / Ash Walsh Brad Jones Racing + 12.309
12. Jason Bright / Andrew Jones Brad Jones Racing + 12.551
13. Andre Heimgartner / Aaren Russell LD Motorsport + 13.025
14. Tim Blanchard / Macauley Jones Brad Jones Racing + 13.412
15. Garth Tander / Warren Luff Holden Racing Team + 36.579
16. Will Davison / Jonathon Webb TEKNO Autosports + 47.727
17. Michael Caruso / Dean Fiore Nissan Motorsport + 1 lap
18. Scott Pye / Tony D’Alberto DJR Team Penske + 1 lap
19. Shae Davies / Chris van der Drift Erebus Motorsport + 1 lap
20. James Courtney / Jack Perkins Holden Racing Team + 5 laps
21. Rick Kelly / Russell Ingall Nissan Motorsport + 17 laps
Not Classified
DNF. Fabian Coulthard / Luke Youlden DJR Team Penske Collision
DNF. Lee Holdsworth / Karl Reindler CS Racing Accident
DNF. Cameron Waters / Jack Le Brocq Prodrive Racing Accident
DNF. Nick Percat / Cameron McConville LD Motorsport Collision
DNF. David Reynolds / Craig Baird Erebus Motorsport Collision

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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