No one could touch Jamie Whincup in the opening race of the weekend.
The first of three races this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway was all Jamie Whincup. After starting from pole, Whincup checked out and easily took the victory, 4.3 seconds ahead of his teammate Craig Lowndes. Shane Van Gisbergen grabbed the final spot on the podium in third.
Scott McLaughlin dropped from second to fourth after a poor start, but not before a short-lived duel with Shane Vam Gisbergen. The two went side-by-side for the first five corners, never making contact before Van Gisbergen finally got the upper hand. Soon after, Rick Kelly and Tim Slade engaged in a much less graceful version of what I just described.
The 35 lap sprint race went mostly incident-free and a safety car intervention was never needed. On the 14th lap, Erebus driver Will Davison was forced to retire from the event when his power steering failed. On the track, things got a little heated between Robert Dahlgreen and Dale Wood as the two began making significant contact with one another. Fortunately, everybody kept it pointed in the right direction.
Van Gisbergen harassed Lowndes for the runner-up spot on numerous occasions during the race, but was never able to mount a charge strong enough to overtake him. Behind them, Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom became embroiled in a riveting battle for fifth place. It lasted for most of the race and neither would give an inch. Tander, who had the inferior car, was somehow able to hold on against a determined Winterbottom.
Frosty's (Winterbottom) sixth place finish did allow his rivals to chip away at his championship lead, but the Ford driver still has an 83 point advantage over Lowndes. Coulthard remains third, 149 points back of the lead.
Top Ten Finishers
1.) Jamie Whincup
2.) Craig Lowndes
3.) Shane Van Gisbergen
4.) Scott McLaughlin
5.) Garth Tander
6.) Mark Winterbottom
7.) Jason Bright
8.) James Courtney
9.) Fabian Coulthard
10.) Lee Holdsworth