Jamie Whincup avoided an opening lap pile-up and overcame the loss of his pit-to-car radio to claim victory in the first of six races that will mark the Townsville SuperSprint round over the next two weekends.

The Red Bull Holden Racing driver made a rapid getaway from pole position to lead the field through the Turn 1 kink and into the tight Turn 2 right-hander.  While he was able to charge into a lead he wouldn’t surrender, behind there was carnage in the midfield as several drivers came together.

The trigger was Whincup’s teammate Shane van Gisbergen copping a hit in the rear, sending him into Anton de Pasquale’s Erebus Holden.  De Pasquale was turfed into a spin, causing the rest of the field to fan out in every direction.  Van Gisbergen had further contact with Todd Hazelwood’s Holden as the pair slid towards the wall, while Macauley Jones, Zane Goddard and Andre Heimgartner all suffered race-ending damage.

Championship leader Scott McLaughlin was at risk of being in the thick of the action after qualifying a poor 16th-fastest, but the DJR Team Penske driver somehow popped through on the other side in eighth place after copping a whack in his back bumper.

Whincup sailed on at the front of the field,but after about ten laps he lost all radio contact with the team.  He made his compulsory pit stop just before mid-distance, taking on three new tyres and cruising on to win by 6.8 seconds.

His lack of pit-to-car radio caused further confusion when he was unsure if he’d seen the chequered flag on the final lap.  He toured around at full speed on what should have been his cool-down lap, missing the entry to pit lane and then pulled to a stop after the start/finish straight once he realised his error.

Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters brought his Ford Mustang home in second place, overtaking his former teammate and occasional combatant Chaz Mostert (WAU Holden) on fresher rubber in the closing laps.

Waters made his pit stop on Lap 23, seven laps after Mostert.  The pair staged an intense but brief battle before Waters was able to overtake at Turn 11 with four laps to go.

Fabian Coulthard overtook David Reynolds in the final laps to claim fourth place, with James Courtney finishing in sixth ahead of McLaughlin, who limited the potential damage that Whincup’ victory would have had to his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings.  The pair is separated by 141 points.

Mostert’s rookie teammate Bryce Fullwood finished a solid eighth ahead of Scott Pye and de Pasquale.

The first leg of the Townsville SuperSprint sees two further 39-lap races take place on Sunday.

2020 Australian Supercars Championship Townsville SuperSprint I – Race 19 Final Classification (39 laps)
Pos Driver Team Result
1. Jamie Whincup Red Bull Holden Racing Team 49:02.972
2. Cameron Waters Monster Energy Racing + 6.885
3. Chaz Mostert Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 TM Appliances + 13.667
4. Fabian Coulthard Shell V-Power Racing Team + 20.969
5. David Reynolds Penrite Racing + 22.714
6. James Courtney Boost Mobile Racing + 29.345
7. Scott McLaughlin Shell V-Power Racing Team + 32.853
8. Bryce Fullwood Walkinshaw Andretti United Mobil 1 TM Middy’s Racing + 34.662
9. Scott Pye DEWALT Racing + 41.499
10. Anton de Pasquale Penrite Racing + 41.575
11. Chris Pither Team SYDNEY + 41.870
12. Mark Winterbottom IRWIN Racing + 42.714
13. Lee Holdsworth Truck Assist Racing + 43.758
14. Garry Jacobson Yellow Cover Racing + 46.292
15. Jack Le Brocq Supercheap Auto Racing + 1:02.613
16. Jack Smith SCT Motor Sports + 1:02.889
17. Rick Kelly Kelly Racing Castrol Racing 1 lap behind
18. Alex Davison Local Legends Racing 1 lap behind
19. Shane van Gisbergen Red Bull Holden Racing Team 9 laps behind
Not Classified Team Result
DNF. Nick Percat R&J Batteries Damage
DNF. Zane Goddard UNIT Racing Damage
DNF. Andre Heimgartner Kelly Racing NED Whisky Racing Damage
DNF. Todd Hazelwood Brut Military Grade Engine
DNF. Macauley Jones Team CoolDrive Collision

Post-Race Penalties:

  • None.

Image via Motorsport.com

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Geoff Burke

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