Fabian Coulthard followed up his breakthrough Melbourne performance with his first win in a V8 Supercars championship round at Symmons Plains.
Coulthard had won three of the four exhibition races on the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix support bill last month, his first triumphs in V8s. At Symmons Plains on Saturday, Coulthard qualified his Brad Jones Holden alongside polesitter Jamie Whincup's Triple 8 Holden for the first event of the series' new "60/60" format, in which races are split into two 60-kilometer sprints with a halftime break in between.
Coulthard kept Whincup under pressure throughout the first segment, although a slight mistake in the closing stages allowed the champion to pull two seconds clear.
In part two, Coulthard immediately attacked and slipped ahead on the second lap with a move that began at the Turn 4 hairpin and took the whole backstraight to complete before he was able to pull in front down the inside into Turn 6.
Despite a late safety car to retrieve Maro Engel's spun Mercedes and a small rain shower in the closing laps, Coulthard was able to hang on a second clear of Whincup and clinch the win. A question mark hangs over his success, though, as Coulthard will be investigated over his driving at the late-race restart.
Mark Winterbottom was top Ford in third, all over Whincup at the end. Just behind, Jason Bright and Garth Tander had a bruising battle for fourth throughout both parts of the race before Bright prevailed. Will Davison and Shane van Gisbergen kept trying to take advantage but had to settle for sixth and seventh.
Former championship leader Craig Lowndes slid off the road on the first lap in a clash with van Gisbergen, sustaining a puncture in the process and then spinning when it became apparent. A pit stop for repairs and a gearbox problem left him to limp home a lapped 26th.
The 60/60 format only applies for the first race of the weekend, with two standard 100km races on Sunday.
Results - 50 laps inc half-time break:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Fabian Coulthard Brad Jones Holden
2. Jamie Whincup Triple 8 Holden + 1.1381s
3. Mark Winterbottom FPR Ford + 1.3025s
4. Jason Bright Brad Jones Holden + 1.9895s
5. Garth Tander HRT Holden + 2.2455s
6. Will Davison FPR Ford + 2.5533s
7. Shane van Gisbergen Tekno Holden + 4.2804s
8. Scott McLaughlin Garry Rogers Holden + 4.7574s
9. James Courtney HRT Holden + 4.9605s
10. Jonathon Webb Tekno Holden + 6.5118s
11. David Wall Britek/BJR Holden + 6.8602s
12. Tony D'Alberto D'Alberto Holden + 7.4218s
13. Alex Davison Schwerkolt/FPR Ford + 8.4568s
14. David Reynolds Rod Nash/FPR Ford + 8.9689s
15. Russell Ingall Walkinshaw/HRT Holden + 10.3004s
16. Michael Caruso Nissan + 10.8398s
17. Tim Blanchard Dick Johnson Ford + 11.6810s
18. Scott Pye Dumbrell Holden + 12.4260s
19. James Moffat Nissan + 13.2957s
20. Rick Kelly Nissan + 13.5359s
21. Alexandre Premat Garry Rogers Holden + 14.0763s
22. Tim Slade Rosenberg/Erebus Mercedes + 14.1914s
23. Lee Holdsworth Erebus Mercedes + 14.4314s
24. Jonny Reid Dick Johnson Ford + 15.7686s
25. Dean Fiore Dumbrell Holden + 19.6358s
26. Craig Lowndes Triple 8 Holden + 1 lap
Maro Engel Erebus Merecedes 41 laps
Todd Kelly Nissan 25 laps