HRT drivers Garth Tander and Cameron McConville triumphed in a fractious opening V8 Supercar race at Surfers Paradise.
Tander brought the car home despite extensive damage to the left front of the Holden, which brought calls from rival teams for the car to be black flagged. They also had to overcome a 10-second penalty for McConville jumping the start, but when James Courtney was given a drive-through for dropping too far back under the safety car, victory was assured.
The race started with the majority of the international visitors behind the wheel. With little or no experience of starting the cars, or racing with full tanks, chaos was predicted and duly arrived.
Jacques Villeneuve made a good start from the second row, and was quickly by Courtney's co-driver Warren Luff. But on his outside, Youlden was flying. He tried to squeeze into a closing gap between Villeneuve and the wall. Collision was inevitable and he bounced into the air and retirement.
At the next corner Villeneuve was tipped into a spin by Greg Ritter and all hell broke loose. Will Power hit the Canadian and was hit from behind, causing terminal damage. Gianni Morbidelli managed to limp back to the pits where he retired, too.
With most of the cars carrying battle wounds, the race finally got going in anger four laps later. The drive of the early stages came from Michael Caruso, who battled his way up to second, while Sebastien Bourdais was a revelation, often the quickest car on track as he enjoyed a brief stint in the lead as the pit stops played out.
With the main drivers back behind the wheel, Courtney and Craig Lowndes put on a charge, working their way through the field to close down on Tander, who had clipped the tire barriers at the chicane and was shedding bits and pieces of Holden.
Courtney finally pulled a great move for the lead, but his effort was in vain, the safety car misdemeanor dropping him to 10th in the end.
Shane van Gisbergen pulled the move of the race as he battled his way by Jamie Whincup and the Kiwi and teammate John McIntyre claimed third. Following a steady stint from GT2 ace Patrick Long, the Caruso car eventually came home fourth.
Pos Driver Car Result
1. Tander/McConville Holden Commodore VE 2h20m00.6981s
2. Lowndes/Priaulx Holden Commodore VE + 1.8549s
3. Van Gisbergen/McIntyre Ford Falcon FG + 3.9301s
4. Caruso/Long Holden Commodore VE + 5.2317s
5. Davison/Brabham Ford Falcon FG + 25.0428s
6. Whincup/Owen Holden Commodore VE + 25.4409s
7. Bright/Menu Holden Commodore VE + 25.9224s
8. Webb/Bourdais Ford Falcon FG + 26.7318s
9. Reindler/Giovanardi Holden Commodore VE + 39.5624s
10. Courtney/Luff Ford Falcon FG + 39.7500s
11. Bargwanna/Tagliani Holden Commodore VE + 44.1464s
12. Ingall/Perkins Holden Commodore VE + 45.9969s
13. Murphy/Muller Holden Commodore VE + 48.2190s
14. Kelly/Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 1'11.0571s
15. Richards/Jones Ford Falcon FG + 1 lap
16. Johnson/Franchitti Ford Falcon FG + 1 lap
17. Coulthard/Reynolds Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
18. Slade/Castroneves Ford Falcon FG + 1 lap
19. Holdsworth/Ritter Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
20. Kelly/Dixon Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap
21. Winterbottom/Youlden Ford Falcon FG + 8 laps
22. Dumbrell/Villeneuve Ford Falcon FG + 11 laps
Ricciardello/Wood Holden Commodore VE 93 laps
Thompson/Salo Holden Commodore VE 78 laps
D'Alberto/Monteiro Holden Commodore VE 50 laps
Pretty/Pruett Holden Commodore VE 24 laps
Fiore/Morbidelli Ford Falcon FG 1 lap
Richards/Power Holden Commodore VE 0 laps
Davison/Briscoe Holden Commodore VE 0 laps