Defending Supercars series champion Jamie Whincup was able to take his first win of the 2018 season after leading the way in wet conditions around the Albert Park circuit.
The record holder for most wins in the championship was able to add another crucial victory to his tally, clearing the pack early on and not looking back in a relatively calm race.
Whincup was able to take his first pole position of the year for Race 4 of the championship, still being hounded by DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin who started alongside the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver. McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard and Cameron Waters (Tickford Racing) filled up the second row while Nick Percat (Brad Jones Racing) and Michael Caruso (Nissan Motorsport) made surprise appearances on the third row of the grid after qualifying poorly for Friday afternoon’s race.
Series leader Shane van Gisbergen may have been starting from seventh but the intermittently terrible weather would be a confidence boost coming to the race start, as it would with fellow wet-weather specialist Chaz Mostert who started from ninth.
The second race of the weekend started behind the Safety Car, the conditions being too wet to risk a standing start from the grid. The green flag came out as the field came around to begin Lap 3, with Whincup leading the pack to Turn 1.
Whincup remained in the lead throughout the opening lap, being able to create a gap back to McLaughlin who was closely being followed by Coulthard as van Gisbergen got past Caruso.
Todd Hazelwood was lucky to not sustain major damage after contact with Garth Tander and Simona de Silvestro after being caught on the outside and tipped into a spin exiting Turn 3. Suffering a possibly bent steering arm, he slid lightly into the tyre wall at Turn 5 just moments later.
While retaining the lead, Whincup went off at Turn 1 on Lap 5, losing time to McLaughlin and Coulthard behind him but crucially still heading the pack in clear air.
James Courtney was lucky not to be collected after he was spun by Jack Le Brocq at Turn 4. The field went past as the #25 driver did a flick-spin, rejoining the race down the order. Le Brocq was given a 15-second time penalty for his involvement.
Mostert took a gamble by trying to overtake Percat at the exit of the back straight chicane, ending up on the wetter part of the track and losing a position to Caruso. He was able to retake the position at Turn 3 on the following lap.
Waters and van Gisbergen engaged in a battle for fourth with a handful of laps to go, with the Kiwi trying to take the place from the defending Sandown 500 champion and limit the damage to his championship points lead.
Mostert and Percat engaged in a battle for sixth in the dying laps. The Tickford racer was able to get past into Turn 3 on the inside, moving up another place to help his points situation.
With the final lap coming early due to a time certain finish, van Gisbergen continued to hound the back of Waters’ Falcon. The rain master was able to get back after a small mistake from Waters at Turn 9, allowing the #97 to move up to fourth place.
At the front, Whincup couldn’t be touched, taking his first win of 2018 ahead of the DJR Team Penske duo lead by McLaughlin from Coulthard.
Van Gisbergen, Waters, Mostert, Percat, Caruso, Mark Winterbottom and Tim Slade completed the top ten while Craig Lowndes, Richie Stanaway and the aforementioned Hazelwood recorded DNFs.
Pic via Keith McInnes
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