Caruso breaks win drought in Darwin opener
Nissan’s Michael Caruso became the 10th different winner of the 2016 Supercars season after pole-sitter Shane van Gisbergen fell foul of a restart penalty.
The result comes seven years after Caruso’s first and only previous victory, also scored at Hidden Valley, and is Nissan’s second win in the Supercars era following success at Winton in 2013.
Caruso had out-dragged Van Gisbergen to lead at the first corner, staying clear of the chaos that was to unfold behind.
The pack was shuffled at Turn 5 as seventh placed starter Craig Lowndes spun following contact with Rick Kelly, who in turn had pressure being applied from Tim Slade behind.
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One of the biggest beneficiaries was Garth Tander who charged from 25th to 16th on lap one, but losing his right-front door along the way resulted in a Safety Car and a trip to the garage.
The subsequent restart provided the race’s flashpoint as Van Gisbergen made minor contact with Caruso exiting the final corner before sneaking down the inside of the Altima before the control line.
Van Gisbergen’s eagerness soon earned him a drive-through penalty, leaving Davison – who also overtook the Nissan at the green flag – leading Caruso and Mostert.
Caruso was one of the first to stop when the pit window opened on lap 10, while Davison waited a further five laps before taking service.
When the front-running stops shook out Caruso had a comfortable three second lead over Mostert with Davison third and Jamie Whincup fourth.
Whincup picked off Davison on lap 24 and Mostert 12 laps later before closing Caruso’s margin to just 1.8s at the flag.
DJR Team Penske duo Scott Pye and Fabian Coulthard finished fifth and sixth respectively after both running long first stints.
Pye had been fortunate to escape without significant damage from the restart, which saw the Shell Ford scrape the inside wall after a touch from Whincup.
Todd Kelly, Lee Holdsworth, Mark Winterbottom and Scott McLaughlin filled seventh through 10th, while Lowndes recovered to 11th.
Van Gisbergen was five places further back after his drive-through penalty.
The results see Whincup jump from third to the head of the championship, now holding an 18 point lead over erstwhile leader Winterbottom.
Result: Virgin Australia Supercars Championship CrownBet Darwin Triple Crown Race 12
|1||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Nissan Altima||42||50:12.3730|
|2||Red Bull Racing Australia||Jamie Whincup||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:14.1525|
|3||Supercheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert||Ford Falcon FG/X||42||50:17.4609|
|4||Team Darrell Lea STIX||Will Davison||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:18.4083|
|5||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Ford Falcon FG/X||42||50:19.5667|
|6||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Ford Falcon FG/X||42||50:21.9819|
|7||carsales Racing||Todd Kelly||Nissan Altima||42||50:24.9066|
|8||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:25.4794|
|9||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom||Ford Falcon FG/X||42||50:26.8857|
|10||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Scott McLaughlin||Volvo S60||42||50:27.7785|
|11||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:28.2132|
|12||Team BOC||Jason Bright||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:28.8879|
|13||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:34.1111|
|14||Super Black Racing||Chris Pither||Ford Falcon FG/X||42||50:40.0351|
|15||Sengled Motorsport||Rick Kelly||Nissan Altima||42||50:40.5791|
|16||Red Bull Racing Australia||Shane Van Gisbergen||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:40.9746|
|17||Erebus Motorsport Penrite||David Reynolds||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:46.4757|
|18||ABRO/Repair Management Aust||Andre Heimgartner||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:46.7109|
|19||Team Cooldrive||Tim Blanchard||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:47.9239|
|20||GB Galvanizing Racing||Dale Wood||Nissan Altima||42||50:48.7978|
|21||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:55.1633|
|22||Plus Fitness Racing||Aaren Russell||Holden Commodore VF||42||50:56.0539|
|23||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Holden Commodore VF||37||50:56.4546|
|24||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters||Ford Falcon FG/X||33||50:56.6650|
|DNF||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat||Volvo S60||27||50:31.0450|
|DNF||ABRO/Repair Management Aust||Nick Percat||Holden Commodore VF|
|5||Shane Van Gisbergen||1054|