Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup got his championship challenge back on track with victory in race one of The Island 300 at Phillip Island.
Whincup moved into second by Turn 1 and took the lead on lap three, and apart from a brief period during the pit stops, led the rest of the way to the checkered flag. Not too far away was his championship rival Will Davison who finished second, leading the opening part of the race before being passed by Whincup, not quite able to match the winner's pace.
Third place was taken by Jack Daniel's Racing driver Rick Kelly, who pressured Davison after the late safety car but couldn't get close enough to make a pass, with Davison's teammate Garth Tander fourth after starting 11th and Shane van Gisbergen completing the top five.
Three drivers who looked set for much better results than they ended up achieving were Jason Bright, Craig Lowndes and Todd Kelly. Bright's race was the first to turn sour, an average start seeing him passed by Davison and Whincup by Turn 1, with Kelly preparing to look around the outside of his car. As Bright exited Doohan Corner he ran a little wide, forcing Kelly, who was partly alongside him, onto the grass. Kelly recovered, but as he returned to the track at Southern Loop he then ran into the back of Bright, sending Bright off into the grass.
After starting on pole position, Bright was nearly last just two corners later, completing lap one in 26th place. He recovered during the rest of the race to finish 16th. Later in the race, having lost a place during the pit stops to teammate and younger brother Rick, Todd Kelly was involved in another incident, again culminating at Doohan Corner and Southern Loop.
After several laps of hounding Kelly, Lowndes took fourth place from him at MG on lap 15, but Kelly was able to stay right with him and, as they crossed the start-finish line, they were alongside each other. Lowndes, on the inside, was forced to take a narrow entry into Doohan Corner and ran wide on the exit, allowing Kelly to move around his outside and get his nose ahead as they prepared to enter Southern Loop. The problem was, having given each other room through the previous two corners, neither driver was prepared to concede at Southern Loop. Kelly turned in while Lowndes refused to concede, the two cars making contact and ending up in the gravel.
Lowndes was able to remove himself but dropped to 21st, recovering to 18th by the finish, while Kelly remained stuck which led to the deployment of the safety car. He eventually resumed a lap down in last place, where he finished.
Pos Driver Make Time
1. Jamie Whincup Ford Falcon FG 38:06.6490
2. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE + 1.8493
3. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 2.3355
4. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE + 4.5159
5. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 5.5488
6. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 6.3228
7. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 6.7062
8. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 7.1491
9. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 8.9209
10. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE + 9.5494
11. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 11.7630
12. Paul Dumbrell Holden Commodore VE + 12.4730
13. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 12.7100
14. Fabian Coulthard Ford Falcon FG + 13.9416
15. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 15.2354
16. Jason Bright Ford Falcon FG + 15.6176
17. Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG + 15.9853
18. Craig Lowndes Ford Falcon FG + 16.3693
19. David Reynolds Holden Commodore VE + 16.8154
20. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 17.7683
21. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 18.6857
22. Tim Slade Holden Commodore VE + 19.2612
23. Dean Fiore Holden Commodore VE + 19.9205
24. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE + 20.3969
25. Cameron McConville Holden Commodore VE + 22.4652
26. Jack Perkins Holden Commodore VE + 23.4876
27. Mark McNally Holden Commodore VE + 25.4065
28. Michael Patrizi Ford Falcon BF + 37.6620
29. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap