Team Vodafone's Jamie Whincup continued his winning ways in 2010 with a comfortable victory in the first race of the Desert 400 at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Whincup led from start to finish and was never seriously troubled, beating home Ford Performance Racing's Mark Winterbottom who ran a strong race throughout but was just that little bit slower, also having to pass Craig Lowndes after the first round of pitstops.
Lowndes came home third despite dropping down to ninth on lap one, but was back up to sixth by lap four and continued to make ground through the first round of pitstops to emerge from them in second place, losing out to Winterbottom soon after and managing to hold off Garth Tander at the end of the race for the final spot on the podium.
After starting a career-best second, fifth was not quite what Shane van Gisbergen had hoped for but it was a clean race for him, including taking the place from James Courtney in the final stint in a battle which saw them pass and repass each other over nearly half a lap, Courtney just over a second behind at the chequered flag.
After losing ground at the start and dropping as far back as 12th on lap two, seventh was a great recovery for Supercheap's Russell Ingall, just ahead of the second HRT car of Will Davison with Rick Kelly and Michael Caruso completing the top ten finishers.
Todd Kelly looked set to be one of those top ten finishers despite qualifying 18th. He moved up to 13th on lap one, and used an early pitstop stratehy, pitting on lap 5 of 37, to his advantage, emerging sixth after the first round of pitstops.
However, it seems it was just a little too aggressive, forced to pit with two laps remaining while running in seventh place for a splash of fuel, dropping him all the way down to 20th place.
Ford Performance Racing's Steven Richards had an early end to his race after qualifying seventh and running sixth in the early laps, as a brake issue forced him into the pits at the end of lap 4, emerging later only to park the car later in the race for good.
Pos Driver Make Time 1. Jamie Whincup Holden Commodore VE 1h21m37.4276s 2. Mark Winterbottom Ford Falcon FG + 3.4152s 3. Craig Lowndes Holden Commodore VE + 11.7939s 4. Garth Tander Holden Commodore VE + 13.4197s 5. Shane Van Gisbergen Ford Falcon FG + 26.0770s 6. James Courtney Ford Falcon FG + 27.4087s 7. Russell Ingall Holden Commodore VE + 38.3863s 8. Will Davison Holden Commodore VE + 39.6628s 9. Rick Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 43.1510s 10. Michael Caruso Holden Commodore VE + 44.0590s 11. Steven Johnson Ford Falcon FG + 45.6720s 12. Lee Holdsworth Holden Commodore VE + 46.4155s 13. Jason Bright Holden Commodore VE + 59.6374s 14. Jonathon Webb Ford Falcon FG + 1m08.0057s 15. Jason Bargwanna Holden Commodore VE + 1m09.6105s 16. Greg Murphy Holden Commodore VE + 1m13.5371s 17. Fabian Coulthard Holden Commodore VE + 1m14.4251s 18. Alex Davison Ford Falcon FG + 1m14.6270s 19. Jason Richards Holden Commodore VE + 1m20.3416s 20. Todd Kelly Holden Commodore VE + 1m23.7995s 21. Tim Slade Ford Falcon FG + 1m28.5771s 22. Andrew Thompson Holden Commodore VE + 1m35.9016s 23. Tony D'Alberto Holden Commodore VE + 1m48.2780s 24. Karl Reindler Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap 25. Tony Ricciardello Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap 26. Daniel Gaunt Holden Commodore VE + 1 lap 27. Paul Dumbrell Ford Falcon FG + 4 laps Not classified/retirements: Driver Make Laps Steven Richards Ford Falcon FG 16 Dean Fiore Ford Falcon FG 5