Shane van Gisbergen gets the last laugh as V8 Supercars toast 2015
Kiwi driver Shane van Gisbergen has, for the third consecutive season, won the final race of the V8 Supercar championship at the Coates Hire Sydney 500.
After starting the race from second position, the Tekno Autosports Holden pilot took the lead of the race from the Holden Racing Team's James Courtney through slightly controversial means after the pair of drivers made contact under brakes at turn nine. Despite Courtney spinning and crashing into the tyre wall, officials were quick to announce that they would not be investigating the incident.
"It's happened a couple of times for Shane [van Gisbergen], but apparently it wasn't a breach of rules," said HRT team boss Ryan Walkinshaw.
"Shane was going for the corner and there was space there in the apex. James [Courtney] closed the door to a degree, and we're told to leave racing room," added Tekno Autosports team manager Steve Hallam.
After a relatively straightforward charge, which was made simpler with a couple of mistakes from his chief rival Jamie Whincup, van Gisbergen's run to the flag was interrupted by a caution period for the stricken Ford of Steve Owen.
But despite the assistance of the safety car, Whincup couldn't make any inroads on the New Zealander and his soon-to-be teammate, ensuring that the driver would once again top the podium in his last drive for the single-car team.
"It's been a really awesome three years," said van Gisbergen.
"It was a shame with James at the start, but I had a run and he moved over under brakes. I just couldn't pull it up when he changed."
Chris Pither looked comfortable all race, holding down a top 15 spot for much of it until a late-race incident. Photo / Super Black Racing
Behind the battle for the lead, several incidents took place. Tim Slade was one of the early casualties, with a sticking throttle shoving the Supercheap Auto Walkinshaw Commodore into the wall at the second-to-last corner — ending Slade's last race for the squad before moving to Brad Jones Racing in 2016.
Kiwi and recent Super Black Racing recruit Chris Pither had been running smoothly in 13th, but was also taken out in an incident after being barricaded by a slowing David Wall with just one lap remaining, before getting clouted by James Moffat's Nissan Altima and failing to finish.
Volvo's Scott McLaughlin's race also fell apart as he pitted out of fourth position on lap 54 with steering troubles.
Behind the leading pair and Rick Kelly in the first Nissan, Mark Winterbottom ended the race in fourth — the relatively trouble-free race confirming his championship crown, on a day when Prodrive Racing Australia also sealed the Dunlop Development Series championship with young driver Cameron Waters.
The V8 Supercars now hibernate for several months before returning to tracks across Australia and New Zealand on March 3, 2016, for round one of the series in Adelaide.
1. Shane van Gisbergen 2. Jamie Whincup 3. Rick Kelly 4. Mark Winterbottom 5. David Reynolds 6. Craig Lowndes 7. Lee Holdsworth 8. Michael Caruso 9. Scott Pye 10. Fabian Coulthard