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Scott McLaughlin won the opening race at Phillip Island from Jamie Whincup and Rick Kelly who was in his 500th race start.  The Shell V-Power front row was changed prior to the race, due to an infringement. The number 12 Coulthard car was sent to the rear of the grid with Michael Caruso, who had caused a red flag in the qualifying session.

Jamie Whincup jumped into the lead from the start and resisted the challenge from McLaughlin throughout the first session and after the two pitstop periods in the 57 lap race. The pair cleared out to a lead in excess of 200 metres from Kelly who had a lonely race.

Jamie Whincup jumped into the lead from the start and resisted the challenge from McLaughlin throughout the first session – Photo: Darin Mandy

Shane vanGisbergen had an equally lonely time until the last stint where David Reynolds, Craig Lowndes, Anton dePasquale with Chaz Mostert fought for position. Lowndes moved past the Erebus cars and reduced the gap to vanGisbergen, while Mostert struggled to find a way around either of the Erebus cars, before finally passing dePasquale and then Reynolds, though Lowndes had cleared away.

Lowndes and vanGisbergen closed on Kelly and when vanGisbergen failed to make an impression allowed Lowndes by.  Lowndes too couldn’t catch the Nissan and slowed to allow Shane to retake 4th on the penultimate lap.

Lowndes finished 5th from Mostert, Reynolds, De Pasquale, Davison and Pye.  Davison led a freight train of cars in the latter stages that also included Tim Slade, Garth Tander, Fabian Coulthard and Mark Winterbottom who was having his 200th race this weekend. Coulthard made several attempts to unsettle and pass the GRM Commodore, though Tander used all his race craft to maintain his position.

Further back there was another queue of cars headed by Andre Heimgartner, the Nissan driver had been held up behind teammate Michael Caruso, who himself had been stuck behind Cam Waters, Heimgartner jumped both cars, though Caruso was unable to follow his fellow Nissan driver through.   James Courtney eventually moved ahead of Caruso for 17th place.

Driver Quotes: Scott McLaughlin “I worked on Jamie for a few laps and worked out where I could get him. That thing (Whincup’s car) was a bullet so it wasn’t going to happen down the chute”.

“I got a massive run 2 or 3 times and I get a run, and then bugger, not happening that time so I had to find somewhere else.  I felt strong going in there and I gave him a little tap there, so yeah I was there”. 

Jamie Whincup: “The old tyres wore out a little quicker than the 17 car. I had the second quickest car today so well done [to McLaughlin].

Rick Kelly:   “Rolled out the car pretty good yesterday and then qualifying not so good.  So, at one time I thought the schnitzel last night was going to be the highlight of the weekend. I still have the fire in the belly. I think its an achievement to still be competitive after the 500 races. Came down to doing a good job on the first lap. Today we found the outright pace”.

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