Jamie Whincup kicked off the 2020 Supercars Championship season in style, claiming victory from pole position in the opening race of the Adelaide 500.

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver had earlier quashed any thoughts of retiring from full-time driving when the team announced that he and teammate Shane van Gisbergen would remain with the squad in 2021. He then continued the form that had seen him dominate the final rounds of last season by claiming pole position in Saturday afternoon’s Top-10 Shootout before going on to win the race. DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin finished in second place, with van Gisbergen rounding out the podium.

Whincup converted pole position into the race lead, fending off an early challenge from the Erebus Motorsport Holden of David Reynolds in the first half-dozen laps before eking out a five-second lead by the time Reynolds made his first of two compulsory pit stops at the end of Lap 23.

By this stage, the race had seen two retirements at the infamous Turn 8 sweeper. Garry Jacobson swiped the outside wall on Lap 6, bringing an early end to his first race for the Matt Stone Racing Holden squad. Barely ten laps later, he was joined on the sidelines by Team Sydney’s James Courtney, who lost front grip chasing the Kelly Racing Ford Mustang of Andre Heimgartner and clattered heavily into the barriers.

Whincup made his first pit stop on Lap 26 but did not rejoin in the lead. That position went to McLaughlin, whose DJR Team Penske squad opted for an early pit stop in the hope of giving him a clear track and a successful undercut to gain positions after he had qualified seventh-fastest.

McLaughlin remained in the lead until his second stop on Lap 42 and, needing to take on a heavy fuel load to meet the 140-litre fuel drop requirement, that allowed Whincup to retain the lead when he took his much shorter second and final pit stop five laps later.

McLaughlin kept an effective second place, although he would come under increasing pressure from van Gisbergen in the final stint. The Red Bull Holden driver had started the race from sixth place and moved into fourth after the first round of pit stops before jumping Reynolds for third in the second pit stop cycle.

He zeroed up onto the back of McLaughlin’s Mustang but could not get close enough to make an overtaking move possible. Up ahead, Whincup was left to cruise to victory – his eleventh on the streets of Adelaide – with a five-second margin to the battling New Zealanders of McLaughlin and van Gisbergen.

Whincup dedicated his win to Holden, whose parent company General Motors had announced the shutdown of the car brand this year.

“I had a rocket today, the car was excellent,” Whincup said.

“I’ve got to dedicate this one to Holden, it’s been a bloody tough week for everyone involved and it’s great to get a win. We got smoked by the other brand [Ford] here last year, so it’s nice to bounce back.”

Reynolds – who had amazing qualified on the front row despite his car belching smoke on his flying lap in the Shootout – would finish a solid fourth followed by the Tickford Racing Mustangs of Will Davison and Cameron Waters, and their former teammate Chaz Mostert who was making his debut for Walkinshaw Andretti United Holden.

The trio staged an entertaining and at times tense battle after the first round of pit stops, remaining largely inseparable for the remainder of the race.

Mark Winterbottom finished eighth in his CS Racing Holden, with Rick Kelly a solid ninth in his eponymous Kelly Racing team’s first race as a Ford squad.

McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard rounded out the top ten ahead of Lee Holdsworth (Tickford Racing) and Andre Heimgartner (Kelly Racing).

It was a poor race for the four-car Brad Jones Racing Holden stable, with the team’s new recruit Todd Hazelwood its best-placed finisher in thirteenth. Macauley Jones was the last of the unlapped runners in seventeenth, while newcomer Jack Smith finished two laps adrift in 19th and again earned the ire of the frontrunners for flagrantly ignoring the blue flags when they came up to lap him.

Local driver and former Adelaide race-winner Nick Percat suffered a steering rack failure on the warm-up lap. After attempting to take the start he slowed within a few corners and limped back to the pits for repairs. He rejoined the race 10 laps down, but his car was still not handling well and he lost a further three laps en route to finishing 22nd and last.

Sunday’s track action will see the second and final 250-kilometre race at 15:20 local time (GMT + 10:30), preceded by preliminary qualifying at 11:50-12:15 and another Top-10 Shootout at 12:25.

2020 Australian Supercars Championship Superloop Adelaide 500 – Race 1 Final Classification (78 laps)
Pos Driver Team Result
1. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing Team 1:47:22.929
2. Scott McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team + 5.237
3. Shane van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing Team + 6.922
4. David Reynolds Penrite Racing + 13.338
5. Will Davison Milwaukee Racing + 15.263
6. Cameron Waters Monster Energy Racing + 16.893
7. Chaz Mostert Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 TM Appliances + 20.560
8. Mark Winterbottom IRWIN Racing + 27.334
9. Rick Kelly Kelly Racing Castrol Racing + 32.778
10. Fabian Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team + 32.978
11. Andre Heimgartner Kelly Racing NED Racing + 34.518
12. Lee Holdsworth Truck Assist Racing + 35.052
13. Todd Hazelwood Plus Fitness Racing + 37.148
14. Anton de Pasquale Penrite Racing + 50.804
15. Scott Pye DEWALT Racing + 1:02.781
16. Jack Le Brocq Supercheap Auto Racing + 1:09.019
17. Macauley Jones Team CoolDrive + 1:09.603
18. Zane Goddard UNIT Racing 1 lap behind
19. Chris Pither Team SYDNEY 1 lap behind
20. Jack Smith SCT Motor Sports 2 laps behind
21. Bryce Fullwood Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing 5 laps behind
22. Nick Percat X Convenience Mobil 13 laps behind
Not Classified Team Reason
DNF. James Courtney Boost Mobile Racing Accident
DNF. Garry Jacobson Yellow Cover Racing Accident

Post-Race Penalties:

  • To be advised

Image via Red Bull Holden Racing Team

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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