SVG rings up 30th career win on The Bend’s debut
SHANE van Gisbergen dominated the inaugural Supercars race at The Bend on Saturday, taking a near lights-to-flag win in race 22 at the OTR SuperSprint.
SVG passed pole man Jamie Whincup on the fifth lap, leading the rest of the way to beat home Nissan's Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso.
The final margin of seven seconds belied how tough a race it had been, with van Gisbergen admitting he'd been struggling through the back end of the race.
"Rick put a lot of pressure on and it was really good, but it was about staying on the track," he said.
"It was really hard - there was one line. Just had to behave!
"As soon as you get out of the groove you just slide."
Whincup's hopes of joining his teammate on the podium were savaged by a mid-race safety car before the bulk of the field made their compulsory pit stops.
The reigning series champion was forced to wait for service behind his teammate, dropping from second to eighth by the time he rejoined the train behind the safety car.
So instead it was down to Kelly and Caruso who battled each other in the early laps to put two Nissans on the podium for the first time since 2013.
Whincup carved his way forward after the restart to finish fourth ahead of Mark Winterbottom, while Scott McLaughlin finished down in sixth place.
"We've got plenty of work to do, but I think at the end of the day we stepped in the right direction, we just need
"The car felt good in the wrong areas to make moves to go forward," McLaughlin conceded.another chunk again."
The results cut his championship margin over SVG to just 41 points.
The front of the field was well behaved on the start, but it was on for young and old towards the tail.
Contact between rookies Jack Le Brocq and Anton De Pasquale sent both spinning, while several other drivers ran wide.
The action continued at Turn 1 the second time around, contact from Fabian Coulthard sending Richie Stanaway spinning.
James Courtney had the best first lap of all, avoiding all the trouble to vault 11 places to be knocking on the door of the top 10.
Garth Tander's race from inside the top 10 on the grid was already on borrowed time. His car had stopped on the way out of the pits to grid up, lasting until the end of the ninth lap when his car rolled to a stop at the final corner.
The highlight of the second half of the race was Whincup, scything his way past four cars to go from eighth to fourth by dint of taking four tyres at his pit stop to everyone else's combination of two left-side tyres or two rear tyres.
Behind McLaughlin was Will Davison, taking an impressive eighth place for 23 Red Racing, while Courtney, Chaz Mostert and Craig Lowndes rounded out the top 10, the latter moving up a total of 15 spots.
The cars will next roll out for qualifying on Sunday morning ahead of the final race of the weekend in the afternoon.
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