Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Jamie Whincup won the first race at Hidden Valley and ends a winning streak by the Ford Performance Racing team which has lasted seven races, back to Whincup’s last win at Symmons Plains in March.
FPR’s Will Davison had qualified on pole position, with David Reynolds in the sister Rod Nash Racing Falcon alongside, though it was Reynolds who took the lead into the first corner, starting the race on the grippier soft tyres, and pulled out a gap to his two FPR team-mates in the early stages.
Tony D’Alberto spun Michael Caruso’s Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden around on the second lap, with Triple Eight’s Craig Lowndes and Kelly Racing’s David Russell also caught up in the incident. This brought out the safety car and saw Lowndes pit early for the faster but shorter lasting soft tyre.
At the restart on lap seven, Reynolds continued to lead, but it was the two Triple Eight drivers who started to charge forward, with Lowndes recovering from last to sixth place during the next phase of the race, whilst Whincup worked his way up from fourth, passing Mark Winterbottom’s FPR Falcon for third on lap 14 at Turn 7, and having a tougher fight to get around championship leader Will Davison for second place, passing him at the final corner on lap 17.
Reynolds’ soft tyres faltered just a few laps later and Whincup was easily able to close up and pass the Rod Nash Racing driver.
Whincup pitted a few laps later for the soft tyres along with the two FPR drivers, and the three drivers would go on to occupy the top three spots on the podium.
Craig Lowndes recovered to fourth place.
There was late race drama as Tim Slade in the Stone Brothers Racing Ford Falcon passed Jason Bright’s Brad Jones Racing Holden down the inside to Turn 1 on lap 36, with Bright spinning around at the next corner after picking up debris on his tyres, and out of eighth place.
Bright, along with Reynolds, had opted to start on the soft tyres and had worked his way up the order to as high as fifth place early on.
Whincup’s third win of the season sees the reigning champion retake the lead of the drivers’ standings, but by just two points over Will Davison.
The second race of the weekend takes place at 14:00 local time on Sunday 17th June.