Jamie Whincup has broken an 11 race winless streak by dominating the opening encounter at Hidden Valley’s Skycity Triple Crown.
Making a strong start from pole position, Whincup methodically built his lead throughout the 35 laps, eventually taking the flag over four seconds clear of team-mate Craig Lowndes.
The win is Whincup’s first since Saturday at Symmons Plains in March and follows Red Bull’s first test day of the season in the build-up to the event.
“It’s a really good start to a hot weekend,” said Whincup.
“Both cars were clearly good and we have made some improvements over the mini-break which is nice.
“We had a few up and down rounds and we don’t like doing that. We really put our head down and everyone has done a good job.
“We took a little bit of a risk and it has paid off. There’s still a long way to go but certainly improved from the start of the year.”
Lowndes moved into second off the start and held the position throughout the race, fending off a determined race-long challenge from eventual third-place finisher Shane van Gisbergen.
Scott McLaughlin had a lonely race to fourth in his Volvo after dropping two places with a tardy start.
Garth Tander and Mark Winterbottom provided the entertainment of the race as they battled for fifth.
Winterbottom hounded his Holden rival from the early stages but, despite pulling alongside Tander in the closing stages, proved unable to find a way through.
Jason Bright, James Courtney and Fabian Coulthard filled seventh through ninth after all benefiting from a late-race mistake from Lee Holdsworth, who dropped to 10th with a rear brake lock-up at Turn 1.
Team-mate Will Davison was the race’s only retirement, falling foul of power steering issues in the early going.
The day’s second 100km race will get underway at 1630 local time.
|1||1||Jamie Whincup||Red Bull Racing Australia||Holden Commodore VF|
|2||888||Craig Lowndes||Red Bull Racing Australia||Holden Commodore VF|
|3||97||Shane Van Gisbergen||Team Tekno VIP Petfoods||Holden Commodore VF|
|4||33||Scott McLaughlin||Valvoline Racing GRM||Volvo S60|
|5||2||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||Holden Commodore VF|
|6||5||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Ford Falcon FG|
|7||8||Jason Bright||Team BOC||Holden Commodore VF|
|8||22||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||Holden Commodore VF|
|9||14||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||Holden Commodore VF|
|10||4||Lee Holdsworth||Erebus Motorsport V8||Mercedes E63 AMG|
|11||360||James Moffat||Norton Hornets||Nissan Altima|
|12||36||Michael Caruso||Norton Hornets||Nissan Altima|
|13||55||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Ford Falcon FG|
|14||6||Chaz Mostert||Ford Pepsi Max Crew||Ford Falcon FG|
|15||16||Scott Pye||Wilson Security Racing||Ford Falcon FG|
|16||47||Tim Slade||Supercheap Auto Racing||Holden Commodore VF|
|17||15||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Nissan Altima|
|18||17||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing||Ford Falcon FG|
|19||23||Russell Ingall||Repair Management Aust Racing||Holden Commodore VF|
|20||7||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Nissan Altima|
|21||21||Dale Wood||Team Advam/GB||Holden Commodore VF|
|22||34||Robert Dahlgren||Valvoline Racing GRM||Volvo S60|
|23||222||Nick Percat||Walkinshaw Racing||Holden Commodore VF|
|24||18||Jack Perkins||Team JELD-WEN||Ford Falcon FG|
|DNF||9||Will Davison||Erebus Motorsport V8||Mercedes E63 AMG|
Championship points after Race 17
|6||Shane Van Gisbergen||925|