Jamie Whincup has struck the first blow of the new V8 Supercars season, taking a commanding win in the opening 125km heat at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
Whincup wasted no time in taking the lead from first-time pole-sitter Scott Pye, beating the DJR Team Penske Ford to the Senna Chicane on the opening lap.
The Red Bull Holden then pulled more than five seconds over Pye and third placed man Scott McLaughlin by the time the chasing pair pitted on lap 13.
Whincup made his own stop a lap later as a Safety Car loomed to retrieve Tim Slade’s Holden, which had become stranded at Turn 9 with the driver unable to select reverse gear.
Fending off early pressure from James Courtney on the restart, Whincup soon eased away to take the chequered flag four seconds clear of his Holden rival.
“The car was fantastic,” smiled Whincup after his 98th career win. “Gizzy (Shane van Gisbergen) was obviously very quick as well. It’s great to see both cars on the podium.”
Courtney had in turn showed pace early by passing Mark Winterbottom for fourth before pitting a lap earlier than McLaughlin and Pye to jump the pair in the lane.
“It’s a scorcher,” exclaimed Courtney in reference to temperatures that reached 37 degrees ambient and 44 on track during the race.
“It’s so hot in there it’s going to be hard to back up this afternoon and then again tomorrow.”
Van Gisbergen turned sixth on the grid into third, while McLaughlin, Garth Tander and Todd Kelly completed the top six.
Long-time rivals Tander and Kelly battled hard at both ends of the race, trading paint in the early stages before the Holden driver took the ascendancy for good eight laps from home.
Craig Lowndes finished seventh after taking two tyres on lap five removed the third Triple Eight Holden from the mid-pack squabble.
Starting alongside Lowndes in 12th, Chaz Mostert ran the same strategy but could do no better than 16th in his return race.
Team-mate Winterbottom struggled with understeer on his way to eighth ahead of Rick Kelly and Fabian Coulthard.
Pye meanwhile finished 12th after a costly pitstop fumble from his crew saw the #17 Ford dropped off its jacks before the left-rear wheel was attached.
A second 125km race will take place from 1615 local time, with Mostert set to start from pole.
Result: V8 Supercars Clipsal 500 Race 1
|1||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||39||56:43.1447|
|2||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||39||56:47.0713|
|3||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||39||56:50.7197|
|4||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||39||56:51.6100|
|5||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||39||56:54.2058|
|6||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||39||56:57.6971|
|7||Team Vortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:01.2462|
|8||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:01.9723|
|9||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||39||57:02.5069|
|10||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:04.1996|
|11||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:04.5536|
|12||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:05.9504|
|13||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||39||57:12.3123|
|14||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:13.1884|
|15||Prodrive Racing Australia||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:13.7421|
|16||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:16.9664|
|17||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||39||57:17.5598|
|18||Superblack Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||39||57:19.0827|
|19||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:22.2953|
|20||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||39||57:23.1813|
|21||LD Motorsports||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:23.4282|
|22||LD Motorsports||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:25.1744|
|23||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:27.5182|
|24||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:30.1191|
|25||Plus Fitness Racing||Aaren Russell||Holden Commodore VF||39||57:33.7576|
|DNF||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||12||17:10.6936|