Tour de France legend Robbie McEwen has proved his credentials on four wheels by winning a drama-packed opening race of the Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge at Albert Park.
The race had to be cut short by one lap with McEwen leading former Socceroo Brett Emerton when Channel Nine Sports presenter Clint Stanaway made contact with former Miss Universe and rival network host Rachel Finch of Channel 7.
Finch rolled and crash into a concrete barrier.
“All of a sudden something clipped me from the back and the next thing I knew I was on my head spinning around in circles,” said Finch.
“I felt completely relaxed; I knew the safety team were coming to get me.
“I’m just disappointed that I have to start from the back of the grid tomorrow!”
The event’s first rollover since Luke Darcy in 2008, safety crews were on the scene in seconds.
Finch exited the car with a smile, waving to the cheering crowd.
“I’m not the most popular guy around Albert Park at the moment as I just took out former Miss Universe Australia,” said Stanaway.
“I came into a corner when I lost control, hit the gravel, tried to correct, and lost control again before clipping Rachael. It was a bit of a comedy of errors to be honest. The sound her car made when it hit mine was enormous, but the main thing is that she is fine which I’m relieved about.”
Prior to the race-stopping incident, Tour de France star Robbie McEwen and Socceroo great Brett Emerton had a fantastic battle for race winning honours.
Racing bumper to bumper, McEwen eventually passed pole-sitter Emerton to take the chequered flag.
“It was a massive battle between Brett and I today,” said McEwen.
“We knew it was going to be that way after the first day at Sandown as we were driving almost identical practice times. Today I was just waiting for an opportunity to pass, but also had to try not to hit him as we both really want to race tomorrow.”
Grease star Rob Mills was third, with Winter Olympian Torah Bright the first woman home in fourth.
See below for full Celebrity Challenge Race 1 results
|1||Robbie McEwen (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8min13.8322s|
|2||Brett Emerton (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:14.7341|
|3||Rob Mills (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:29.0447|
|4||Torah Bright (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:29.6719|
|5||Tim Robards (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:31.2579|
|6||Tommy Little (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:34.8637|
|7||Catriona Rowntree (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:42.1508|
|8||Lydia Lassila (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:45.2445|
|9||Maz Compton (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:49.1901|
|10||Adam D’Sylva (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:50.2250|
|11||Clint Stanaway (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:51.5172|
|12||Scherri-Lee Biggs (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:51.8625|
|13||Lauren Phillips (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:52.4667|
|14||Dave Thornton (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:53.8113|
|15||Charley Boorman (UK)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||8:58.4282|
|16||Nathan Brown (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||9:17.5656|
|17||Megan Washington (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||3||9:31.9474|
|DNF||Rachael Finch (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||2||5:51.0419|
|DNF||Sam Mac (AUS)||Mazda 3 SP25 GT||2||6:03.2694|
*See below for the comprehensive Speedcafe.com guide to the Australian Grand Prix