ADELAIDE, Australia — Report by Race Chaser Online International Motorsport Correspondent Jack Cobourn — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Look out, V8 Supercars field … the champion is back.
On a hot day in Adelaide, six-time series titlist Jamie Whincup fired the opening shot of the 2016 championship season by winning the first race of the Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide.
Whincup took the top spot from polesitter Scott Pye and never trailed again en route to his 98th career V8SC race win. The result marked the ninth straight year that a Triple Eight Race Engineering car won the season-opening race and the third straight time that it was Whincup’s machine grabbing the laurels atop the podium.
“I’m gonna just treat every win like it was my last,” Whincup said after the race. “It (was) pretty warm out there – we’re bringing 88 back this year so it’s nice to get the runs on the board early.”
“Gizzy (new teammate Shane van Gisbergen) is very quick as well, he’ll make a tune up too and I’m sure it’ll be a great battle as we go through the season.”
The start was clean through the Senna Chicane as Whincup raced to the point with a brilliant start off the grid, but back in the pack, Lee Holdsworth got into a skirmish and spun his machine around. The Charlie Schwerkolt Racing pilot was able to refire, but dropped to last in the running order as a result.
The running order was shuffled slightly as Craig Lowndes and Chaz Mostert pitted in at the end of lap six, but up front, it was Whincup from Pye and Scott McLaughlin with the slightest of cushions early on.
The first of the top three to pit were Pye and McLaughlin on lap 13. Pye fumbled his stop, allowing McLaughlin to grab the spot ahead. However, McLaughlin was balked by Pye coming into his box, costing him time in a battle with Van Gisbergen later in the race.
On lap 13, Tim Slade went off, parked in an awkward position in the turn nine escape road. Whincup came in on lap 14 with a nice cushion over his opponents, but the safety car came out, neutralizing the field and resulting in many cars flocking to the pits.
Slade’s stricken car was unable to get into reverse, and after a heated exchange with officials his car was loaded onto the trailer and his race was over.
At the restart, Whincup began to pull away from Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney, while Pye’s DJR Team Penske Ford was mired down in 11th.
As the race wore on, the six-time champion carried a cushion of 3.1 seconds over Courtney on lap 33 and just kept eking out the lead, bit by bit. By the time the checkered flag waved it was a four second victory for Whincup as he cruised home to the checkers.
Two-time Adelaide winner Courtney came home second,
“(This is a) great way to start the year,” Courtney said. “Congrats to the other blokes and bring on this afternoon. It’s a scorcher, it’s so hot in there it’s going to be hard to back up (during) the afternoon.”
The real story late in the race was the battle for third between Van Gisbergen and McLaughlin battle, with SvG coming out ahead in his first race for Triple Eight.
Van Gisbergen said he fixed a few things from Friday’s qualifying round to help him get to the podium.
“It was bloody hot out there, starting sixth, but somehow we got through to the front on some great strategy,” Van Gisbergen said. “The car was really good — we made some changes (from practice and qualifying) that really improved some things. Overall a good outing.”
McLaughlin and Garth Tander rounded out the top five.
Pye ultimately faded to 12th in the rundown after his pole start.
The V8 Supercars Championship go green for Saturday’s second race of the Clipsal 500 Adelaide at 4:15 p.m. local time.
RESULTS: V8 Supercars Championship; Clipsal 500 Adelaide; Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit; March 5, 2016
- Jamie Whincup
- James Courtney
- Shane van Gisbergen
- Scott McLaughlin
- Garth Tander
- Todd Kelly
- Craig Lowndes
- Mark Winterbottom
- Rick Kelly
- Fabian Coulthard
- Will Davison
- Scott Pye
- Michael Caruso
- David Reynolds
- Cameron Waters
- Chaz Mostert
- James Moffat
- Chris Pither
- Jason Bright
- Dale Wood
- Nick Percat
- Andre Heimgartner
- Lee Holdsworth
- Tim Blanchard
- Aaren Russell
- Tim Slade (DNF)
About the Writer
Jack Cobourn is the international motorsports correspondent at Race Chaser Online, and covers the V8 Supercars Championship, Rally Cars and the FIA World Rally Championship. Cobourn has been an avid follower of motorsports for years, having not missed a Formula One race in 16 seasons. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in history and a minor in journalism.
Email Jack at: Jack.Cobourn@yahoo.com
Follow Jack on Twitter: @JackCWriter92
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