Holden wins: Jamie Whincup claims unlikely victory at Adelaide 500
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Seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup has claimed a surprising yet dominant victory at the first race of the 2020 series in Adelaide.
Having confirmed a multi-year deal with the Red Bull Holden Racing Team overnight, Whincup appeared flat in the day's second qualifying session — salvaging ninth prior to the top 10 shootout. However, in the shootout he pulled out a magical lap to leap from the bottom to pole position, which helped set up a clear cut win. Kiwis Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen sparred over second and third, with the defending champ and his Shell V-Power Racing Ford Mustang taking second place.
“I had a rocket today, the car was excellent, made the most of pole position and everything was pretty straightforward,” said Whincup. “These boys were fast but we had track position, we were up the road a little bit. I suppose we’ve got to dedicate this one to Holden. It’s been a bloody tough week for everyone involved and it’s great to get a win.”
From pole Whincup took the lead off the start from David Reynolds, with Will Davison, Chaz Mostert, van Gisbergen slotting into the top five spots. Just shy of the top five was McLaughlin.
Having only managed to earn a seventh-place starting spot, he took an alternative strategy with an early pit-stop. It looked like Team Sydney recruit James Courtney would profit from a similar strategy, until he slapped the turn eight wall and retired within the first 20 laps.
The race ran a relatively straightforward rhythm until the leaders made their stops in a clump between lap 24 and 27. McLaughlin's early stop saw him take over first place, but on weaker tyres and the need to make his second stop earlier. Whincup was back out in second once again ahead of Reynolds, van Gisbergen, and a fabulous stoush consisting of Davison, Mostert, and Cameron Waters.
The three former teammates had all swapped paint at some point with each other while fighting; Mostert making contact at high speed with Davison while running side-by-side into turn eight, and then doing the same at the final corner before getting snookered into a near half-spin at turn six by Waters. Somehow all were able to play on, although they had lost time to van Gisbergen.
As Reynolds fended off van Gisbergen and Davison continued to frustrate Mostert, Waters ended up stopping to pit at 41 in an attempt to undercut the bunch. Reynolds echoed the move the next lap, and McLaughlin/Mostert the one after. As it played out, it was van Gisbergen that would persevere on a longer strategy; pitting on lap 50.
The new order with the stops settled was Whincup by over six seconds from McLaughlin, then van Gisbergen, Reynolds, Davison, Waters, and Mostert. With Whincup holding a commanding lead, it was van Gisbergen that emerged as the quickest runner of the chasing pack. By lap 56 he had caught McLaughlin — both cars having battled traffic.
The topic of McLaughlin versus van Gisbergen became the central talking point as the finish loomed. Once van Gisbergen had gotten by the lapped Jack Smith he quickly bridged the gap to the defending champ, only for McLaughlin to blast away and build a one-second margin.
The gap between the two ebbed and flowed between half a second and just over a second, with the place eventually going to McLaughlin — 1.7-seconds of margin separating the two Kiwis.
Reynolds and Davison rounded out the top five, and Waters, Mostert, Mark Winterbottom, Rick Kelly, and Fabian Coulthard the top 10. Beyond the top 10, on debut in a Ford Mustang Andre Heimgartner finished 11th, and Chris Pither completed the Kiwi contingent by finishing 19th.
Qualifying for tomorrow's Adelaide 500–deciding 78-lap race kicks off at 2.00pm, with the race following at 5.00pm.
Superloop Adelaide 500, race one
1. Jamie Whincup
2. Scott McLaughlin
3. Shane van Gisbergen
4. David Reynolds
5. Will Davison
6. Cameron Waters
7. Chaz Mostert
8. Mark Winterbottom
9. Rick Kelly
10. Fabian Coulthard
11. Andre Heimgartner
12. Lee Holdsworth
13. Todd Hazelwood
14. Anton de Pasquale
15. Scott Pye
16. Jack LeBrocq
17. Macauley Jones
18. Zane Goddard
19. Chris Pither
20. Jack smith
21. Bryce Fullwood
22. Nick Percat
DNF. James Courtney
DNF. Garry Jacobson