Mark Winterbottom has taken a third straight win in the MSS Security V8 Supercar Challenge at Albert Park in a race marred by a first lap pile-up.
After his two wins on Friday, the Orrcon Steel FPR driver led home Holden Racing Team's Garth Tander by over a second, with Will Davison (Trading Post FPR), Shane van Gisbergen (SP Tools Racing) and Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing) completing the top five.
The win, however, was overshadowed by a huge multi-car pile-up on the opening lap. The incident began when James Courtney (Holden Racing Team) made contact with the rear of Jamie Whincup at turn three spinning him into the path of the chasing pack. Stranded sideways, Whincup's TeamVodafone Holden Commodore was t-boned by Karl Reindler (Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing). Unable to avoid the accident Taz Douglas (Team iSelect), Russell Ingall (Supercheap Auto Racing) and David Wall (Wilson Security Racing) ploughed into the stationary cars. Alexandre Premat's Fujitsu Racing GRM car was also damaged in the collision, while Douglas’ car was shunted on to its side and the race was red-flagged. The lengthy clean-up period reduced the remainder of the race to a seven-lap sprint.
Having slipped to fourth at the first start, Winterbottom got away well on the second attempt, heading Tander and a convoy of other cars into the pit-lane at the end of the first lap for their compulsory stop, leaving Davison and Coulthard fighting for the lead.
On a different strategy to his FPR team-mate, Davison stayed out until the end of the penultimate lap before make the switch to hard tyres. Emerging between Winterbottom and Tander, the Trading Post FPR driver held off the fast-finishing Tander for much of the final lap, but the HRT Commodore pilot found his way past at Turn 11 as Davison struggled to get his hard tyres up to temperature.
Maintaining his lead, Winterbottom took his third straight win of the weekend.
“My first start was atrocious so I am glad the race was red flagged,” said Winterbottom.
“The second was much better and that made the difference. The car was great and despite it being a short race we were motoring and had great pace.
“I got a slight gap on Garth (Tander) and I knew he was quick but had to keep pushing to ensure I could get out in front of Will. He had a great battle and I was watching the big screen on the last lap and cheered him on. He did very well on hard tyres.
“Today is another great day for the team.”
Whincup made the restart but finished 23rd and last after he had started from the pit-lane. Damage to the Reindler, Douglas, Ingall, Wall and Premat entries forced them out, although they are expected to make the final race on Sunday.
Lee Holdsworth (IRWIN Racing), Craig Lowndes (TeamVodafone), Todd Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing), Greg Murphy (Pepsi Max Crew) and David Reynolds (The Bottle-O Racing Team) rounded out the top ten.
The final race takes place on Sunday, where the points from Races 2 and 3 will determine the grid.
Race 3 result:
|1||Mark Winterbottom||Orrcon Steel FPR Ford||7||42:52.4637|
|2||Garth Tander||Holden Racing Team||7||42:55.7900|
|3||Will Davison||Trading Post FPR Ford||7||42:56.4581|
|4||Shane Van Gisbergen||SP Tools Racing||7||42:56.7418|
|5||Fabian Coulthard||Lockwood Racing||7||42:58.5122|
|6||Lee Holdsworth||Irwin Racing||7||42:59.0394|
|8||Todd Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||7||43:03.1938|
|9||Greg Murphy||Pepsi Max Crew||7||43:04.4591|
|10||David Reynolds||The Bottle-O Racing Team||7||43:05.1506|
|11||James Courtney||Holden Racing Team||7||43:05.1681|
|12||Michael Patrizi||Tekno Autosports||7||43:10.1747|
|13||Jason Bright||Team BOC||7||43:10.4617|
|14||Tony D'Alberto||Tony D'Alberto Racing||7||43:10.5530|
|15||Steven Johnson||Jim Beam Racing||7||43:10.7538|
|16||Michael Caruso||Fujitsu Racing GRM||7||43:10.9515|
|17||Tim Slade||Lucky 7 Racing||7||43:11.1869|
|18||James Moffat||Team Norton DJR||7||43:12.4832|
|19||Steve Owen||V.I.P. Petfoods||7||43:13.9573|
|20||Jonathon Webb||Tekno Autosports||7||43:16.9241|
|21||Dean Fiore||Jim Beam Racing||7||43:18.0328|
|22||Rick Kelly||Jack Daniel's Racing||7||43:18.1651|
|DNF||Alexandre Premat||Fujitsu Racing GRM|
|DNF||Karl Reindler||Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing|
|DNF||Russell Ingall||Supercheap Auto Racing|
|DNF||David Wall||Wilson Security Racing|
|DNF||Taz Douglas||Team iSelect|