Clipsal 500 Supercars: Van Gisbergen wins season-opener

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Clipsal 500 Supercars: Van Gisbergen wins season-opener
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Mar 4, 2017, 6:57 AM

Shane van Gisbergen kicked off his Supercars title defence in perfect style, cruising to victory on the streets of Adelaide ahead of Fabian Coulthard and James Courtney.

Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Podium: race winner Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden celebrates with champagne
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Fabian Coulthard, Team Penske Ford
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Simona de Silvestro, Nissan Motorsports
Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Ford
Mark Winterbottom, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
James Moffat, Garry Rogers Motorsport
Chaz Mostert, Rod Nash Racing Ford
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Alex Rullo, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport
Tim Slade, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Craig Lowndes, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Scott Pye, Holden Racing Team
Garth Tander, Garry Rogers Motorsport
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Shane van Gisbergen, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

The Triple Eight driver started from pole, but only led the first half of the first lap before being passed by Coulthard. The pair then ran nose-to-tail for the rest of the first stint, van Gisbergen taking back over the lead when Coulthard pitted on Lap 16.

Van Gisbergen made his own first stop on Lap 20, Triple Eight deciding for a longer fill. That dropped van Gisbergen to fourth in the order behind Coulthard, Courtney, and Jamie Whincup (who he quickly cleared), but meant he had a shorter stop second time around.

That proved decisive, van Gisbergen leapfrogging from third to a healthy lead after pitting again on Lap 43. From there he could simply cruise to a 14.7s win.

“I could have backed off, but I wanted to know how these tyres would last,” said van Gisbergen.

“What a great first day as Red Bull Holden Racing Team. It was an awesome race; very tough at the start, but we pushed on at the end. Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

Coulthard came home second, but it wasn’t easy. Clipsal specialist Courtney shadowed the DJR Team Penske Ford right to the end, the pair separated by just 0.8s at the finish.

“I had James breathing down my neck the whole race,” said Coulthard. “The Triple Eight car is pretty fast, so we’ve got a bit of work to do. We’ve got a small mountain to climb, we’ll go at our own pace.”

“I was pressuring Fabs all the way to end, hoping he’s make a mistake,” added HSV Racing driver Courtney. “There was a couple of little ones, but nothing big enough for us to get through. But it’s a great start to the season.”

Cam Waters was next in line, collecting an impressive fourth place for Prodrive Racing, ahead of Rick Kelly’s Nissan.

Whincup finished the race sixth, a strategy gamble to pit on Lap 1 not paying off. The decision to make the early stop was in anticipation for a Safety Car that never came, and left the six-time champion out of sync until the end of the second stint.

Whincup’s race was further compromised by a tangle with Mark Winterbottom at the very top of the third stint. After a solid first two stints, Winterbottom emerged from his second stop running fourth.

However, just several corners after coming out of the pits he was turned around after contact with Whincup at Turn 5.

The resulting spin dropped the Prodrive Ford down to 15th, where he ultimately finished, while Whincup lost a spot to Craig Lowndes during the scuffle, a spot he claimed back with a couple of laps to go.

Hometown hero Nick Percat finished seventh, despite a mid-race bingle with Brad Jones Racing teammate Tim Slade, while Lowndes dropped to eighth in the closing stages of the race.

Like Winterbottom, Scott McLaughlin was another front-runner to miss out on a result. The Kiwi looked in contention in the early stages of the race, but was ultimately undone by a pitlane penalty.

Sitting fifth, right behind the lead four, after the first round of stops shook out, he was busted for weaving after the Safety Car lights had gone out on a Lap 23 restart, the subsequent drive-through dropping him back to 24th. He could only recover to 17th.

Further back in the field, Simona de Silvestro finished her first race as a full-time Supercars driver in 20th spot. She had a mostly clean race, her only issue being some dislodged bodywork after nudging the barriers with a handful of laps to go.

“The pace could be a little bit better, but the car was really good,” she said. “For a first race, we’ll take it. We finished, and learnt a lot during the race. We’ll do better tomorrow.”

Will Davison’s race only lasted one lap, the Tekno driver becoming the first to be properly bitten by Turn 8 this weekend after being shoved wide by James Moffat and Todd Kelly.

“I didn’t know someone was next to Todd,” he said. “I was about to back out and give him right of way into Turn 8, and the next thing his car has come across the front of me. I noticed he had someone squeezing him on the inside of him.”

Race 1 results:

PosDriverCarLapsGap
1 new_zealand Shane van Gisbergen Holden Commodore VF 78  
2 new_zealand Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG-X 78 14.7120
3 australia James Courtney Holden Commodore VF 78 15.5603
4 australia Cameron Waters Ford Falcon FG-X 78 22.8775
5 australia Rick Kelly Nissan Altima 78 23.4185
6 australia Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VF 78 24.2242
7 australia Nick Percat Holden Commodore VF 78 28.9073
8 australia Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VF 78 32.7547
9 australia Chaz Mostert Ford Falcon FG-X 78 33.8808
10 australia James Moffat Holden Commodore VF 78 35.2057
11 australia Michael Caruso Nissan Altima 78 37.1503
12 australia Garth Tander Holden Commodore VF 78 38.3478
13 australia Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VF 78 39.3845
14 australia Tim Slade Holden Commodore VF 78 42.3531
15 australia Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG-X 78 44.5477
16 australia Scott Pye Holden Commodore VF 78 46.2255
17 new_zealand Scott McLaughlin Ford Falcon FG-X 78 47.3353
18 australia David Reynolds Holden Commodore VF 78 57.3061
19 australia Tim Blanchard Holden Commodore VF 78 1'09.5837
20 switzerland Simona de Silvestro Nissan Altima 78 1'16.8142
21 australia Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG-X 77 +1 lap
22 australia Todd Kelly Nissan Altima 77 +1 lap
23 australia Alex Rullo Holden Commodore VF 76 +2 laps
24 australia Taz Douglas Holden Commodore VF 64 +14 laps
R australia Dale Wood Holden Commodore VF 49  
R australia Will Davison Holden Commodore VF 0  
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