The Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Shane van Gisbergen has been able to start off his season in the same way he began 2017 by taking a clean sweep of the opening proceedings by winning race one at the Adelaide Parklands Circuit.
The reigning Adelaide 500 champion converted provisional pole to pole to victory with a smart drive in the first race of the 2018 Supercars season, also giving the Holden Commodore ZB its debut win in the series.
Van Gisbergen’s pole position came under investigation for a breach of track limits at the exit of Turn 7 but the officials later deemed his lap to be legal, giving him another start from the first spot in Adelaide after taking both poles in 2017.
Off the start, the pole sitter made a tardy start as Scott McLaughlin beat him off the line though he dropped down to third after James Courtney got a rocket launch from third, managing to follow McLaughlin in the opening laps.
Mark Winterbottom and Jamie Whincup were the first of the leaders to stop at the end of Lap 7, both coming in from top ten places and wanting to adopt different strategies and to avoid double stacking with the high probability of a Safety Car.
McLaughlin pitted from the lead as Courtney commenced Lap 10, coming out with a decent gap over Winterbottom who had further stretched the margin to Whincup. Despite the threat of an undercut, the lead pair of Courtney and van Gisbergen stayed out in clear air with the Kiwi closing in on the leader.
Courtney dived in for his first stop of the day on Lap 15, allowing van Gisbergen to get clear air, coming out just ahead of McLaughlin though taking on less fuel in his stop to gain track position over the #17 car.
Van Gisbergen came in from the lead on Lap 24, taking a long fill of E85, coming out behind Whincup and ahead of David Reynolds. After the first round of pit stops for the leaders, the effective order on the road was Courtney, McLaughlin, Winterbottom, Whincup, van Gisbergen, Reynolds, Chaz Mostert, Nick Percat, Scott Pye and Garth Tander.
The #97 car began its charge to the front by getting past the fellow Triple Eight #1 car, Whincup evidently struggling compared to van Gisbergen who then ranged up to the back of Winterbottom with ease. He moved up to third after getting past the Tickford car at Turn 5, making a divebomb which yielded a result without contact.
Contact at the Turn 9 hairpin on Lap 34 between Reynolds attempting a pass on Whincup turned the defending series champion around, dropping him down by two spots while Reynolds escaped penalty for the incident.
Courtney was the first driver to initiate the final round of stops, pitting on Lap 40 from the lead and being followed by Winterbottom, the pair coming out in relatively clean air and making the minimum fuel drop.
Mostert followed on the next lap while McLaughlin relegated the lead to van Gisbergen on Lap 42, looking to avoid a major undercut from Courtney but coming out to a gap which was more or less the same. Whincup too pitted, rejoining clear of Mostert who had passed him earlier.
On Lap 43, van Gisbergen came in from the lead, taking on a new set of tyres and the minimum fuel requirement, rejoining well clear of Courtney and McLaughlin with plenty of fresh air in front of him.
The first Safety Car of the season was deployed on Lap 53 to allow marshals to clean up debris which had found its way on to the track, bunching the field up for the sprint to the flag.
Racing resumed on two laps later with van Gisbergen leading the way from Courtney, McLaughlin, Reynolds and Winterbottom. Contact at Turn 9 saw Waters spun around and Heimgartner caught up in the melee after a concertina crash.
Coulthard got involved in an incident at the final hairpin with Richie Stanaway, cutting a tyre and having to limp his way back to the pits. The damage to Stanaway’s car was minor in relation to the incident he was then soon involved in another incident at Turn 5, becoming a part of a sandwich with fellow rookies James Golding and Todd Hazelwood.
Stanaway was able to get himself out of the tyre barrier after the Safety Car had been deployed while Golding had to nurse his car back home with broken steering on both corers while Hazelwood suffered mostly superficial damage to his #35 Falcon.
The second restart came on Lap 59 with the top order largely unchanged, van Gisbergen again getting the jump early on to put space between him and the pursuing pack. Yet again the Safety Car came out thanks to Tim Blanchard finding the Turn 8 wall due to making contact just before the apex with Simona de Silvestro.
Another restart was led by the quick Kiwi on Lap 63, this time struggling a bit more to pull away from Courtney but still holding the lead and showing good car speed going in to the dying laps.
With 10 laps left, McLaughlin started to struggle, dropping off from the back of Courtney’s #25 car and allowing Reynolds to close in, challenging for the final podium position.
At the front, no one could touch van Gisbergen who took his third victory at Adelaide in a row, giving the ZB Commodore a great race debut.
Courtney and McLaughlin took the other podium spots with Reynolds and Winterbottom completing the top five. Whincup, Mostert, Will Davison, Craig Lowndes and Pye filled the top ten places, making it six Holdens and four Fords in the ten.
|2018 Australian Supercars Adelaide 500 – Race 1 Final Classification (78 laps)|
|Pos||Driver||Team / Entry||Result|
|1.||Shane van Gisbergen||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||1:56:18.654|
|2.||James Courtney||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||+ 1.222|
|3.||Scott McLaughlin||Shell V-Power Racing Team||+ 3.431|
|4.||David Reynolds||Erebus Penrite Racing||+ 4.479|
|5.||Mark Winterbottom||The Bottle-O Racing Team||+ 6.749|
|6.||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||+ 7.666|
|7.||Chaz Mostert||Supercheap Auto Racing Team||+ 9.470|
|8.||Will Davison||Milwaukee Racing||+ 10.317|
|9.||Craig Lowndes||Autobarn Lowndes Racing||+ 10.925|
|10.||Scott Pye||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing||+ 13.304|
|11.||Garth Tander||Wilson Security Racing GRM||+ 16.336|
|12.||Nick Percat||Blackwoods Racing||+ 16.902|
|13.||Lee Holdsworth||Preston Hire Racing||+ 16.916|
|14.||Tim Slade||Freightliner Racing||+ 18.457|
|15.||Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||+ 20.158|
|16.||Cameron Waters||Monster Energy Racing||+ 21.014|
|17.||Andre Heimgartner||Nissan Motorsport||+ 27.542|
|18.||Simona de Silvestro||Team Harvey Norman||+ 29.277|
|19.||Anton de Pasquale||Erebus Racing||1 lap behind|
|20.||Jack Le Brocq||TEKNO Autosports||1 lap behind|
|21.||Fabian Coulthard||Shell V-Power Racing Team||3 laps behind|
|22.||Todd Hazelwood||Bigmate Racing||3 laps behind|
|23.||Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||13 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Reason|
|DNF.||Richie Stanaway||MEGA Racing||Driveshaft|
|DNF.||Tim Blanchard||CoolDrive Racing||Accident|
|DNF.||James Golding||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Collision|
Image via Red Bull Holden Racing Team